So many questions in local teen’s death


A certain story line played out in the local zeitgeist: local private school 13-year-old, stressed over late schoolwork, left his home right before a big snowstorm and had been missing for days. The kid’s family and local authorities called for massive media attention and search crew help. The indication was that maybe this normal, well-adjusted, well-liked kid, who rashly left the house without his glasses or cell phone, had fallen and bumped his head somewhere and needed help ASAP. or perhaps he fled to South Street in Philly and met up with some bad guys. Hundreds of people got involved, searching, putting up posters. Thousands worried; The media coverage was extensive.

By now we all know the kid’s story ended tragically, with an apparently self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head. His body was located on the family’s 17-acre property, covered in snow.

As people process this tragedy, questions arise. Most people are too polite to ask these questions publicly because they don’t want to overshadow or undermine the extreme pain the family must be feeling at this time. But yet the questions persist.

Why weren’t we told about the missing gun or the possibility of a gun? Is it because the family wanted help and feared they would not get it if that fact came out?

How did this story – of essentially a run-away teen – get so big? Teens run away all the time; they don’t get this kind of coverage.

Why the overwhelming publicity when it is a private family matter? The family asks for privacy now – which, of course, is understandable and they have a right to it – but we can’t simply turn off our concern, our curiosity, or our emotions. We went from being concerned and devastated to feeling manipulated. There will be no closure on this, and that too is painful.

Others are (mostly reluctantly) using the apparent suicide to bring up issues of gun ownership and safety, the little-known harsh realities of the spontaneous nature behind suicide, LGBTQ issues, school pressures, parenting and more. Still others are trying to silence those conversations because they feel as though such discussions are disrespectful to the memory of the deceased and his family.

There’s no right way to do this.

But we thought we’d put up a post here, not to disrespect anyone or anything but to just say, yes, we are grieving and upset as a community, and that’s OK. It’s OK to be angry and upset. We are angry. We are upset! We are looking for ways to avoid this in the future. We are looking for blame. (Even in the Facebook posts from the family and/or their representatives, one could suss out a blaming on school obligations. It could have been construed as a veiled lash out – and pre-litigious move – toward the school the teen attended).

There is no one thing to blame, though. This story is not simple and cannot be simplified. But we as a community can grieve and talk about it. Try not to judge your fellow Havertownie on how she/he is talking about or dealing with it. Let’s give each other a pass on our mistakes with this one.



Photo by Beatnik Photos on Flickr