A Story of Suicide
by Hailee Joy Lamberth
A thirteen year old should be enjoying life, planning her future, anticipating the joys to come. Instead, and sadly for all who knew her, Hailee Joy Lamberth, chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Hailee was an A student, bubbling with enthusiasm and love for life. She danced, wrote poems, and attended classes for gifted students. She loved playing with her little brother, Jacob. They’d play hide and seek and she’d always hide in the same place so that Jacob would find her.
But her favorite interaction with Jacob was when they rode the Ferris wheel together and got stuck at the top. Jacob was afraid, but Hailee reassured him. “We’re practically in heaven,” she tells him. “Well if we die,” Jacob says, “At least we’ll be together.”
When she was twelve years old, the bullying began.
First it was a boy in math class who seemed to have a crush on her. When she rebuffed him, he started sending her mean notes, calling her names, and spreading rumors about her.
Then it was a girl in P.E. who would crash into her when no one was looking.
Hailee tried to avoid the bullies. She decided to drop out of the math class. She made excuses to her parents in order to escape, and her parents believed her. They didn’t know that her life was becoming unbearable.
By the end of the school year, Hailee had begun to cut herself. It was her way of coping with the constant degradation. She overachieved in school in order to keep her parents from asking too many questions. A kid who is bullied often becomes an expert liar.
In seventh grade, the bullying increased, growing like a cancer. Hailee kept up appearances to protect her parents and brother, but inside she was suffering. Two days after her thirteenth birthday, she succumbed to the pain.
Hailee’s parents have decided to not allow her death to be in vain. By working with Zuiker Press to tell Hailee’s story as if she were able to tell it herself, they hope reach out to other young people in crisis, and show them that they do have options — and to prevent them from bringing the excruciating pain of suicide to their families.
Their hope is that by sharing Hailee’s story, they may prevent another young person from making a fatal choice.
GOODBYE: A Story of Suicide is the eighth in a series of graphic novels written by young adults for their peers.
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Five Parent Take-Aways About Suicide
If your child appears self-destructive, take it seriously.
Do not keep it a secret, get help. People who contemplate suicide usually give warning signs about their ordeal to a parent, a trusted friend, or teacher. Take these signs seriously and never keep them a secret. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people in the United States between the ages of 15 and 24. Suicide is preventable and we can all help people before the suicidal thought become action.
There are many warning signs.
These signs include direct threats (“I’m going to kill myself”); indirect threats (“I want to sleep forever,” “wait until I’m gone,” “I have nothing to live for”); suicide notes and plans (on paper or online postings); prior suicidal behavior; making “final” arrangements (i.e., giving away prized possessions, making a will or funeral arrangements); self-harm; and preoccupation with death. There also may be changes in behavior, appearance, and expressed thoughts or feelings.
Ask your child, “Are you thinking of suicide?”
If your child confides in you that they are contemplating suicide, remain calm, listen to what they have to say, focus your concern on their well-being, do not blame or judge, reassure that this feeling is temporary and that there is help and, if possible, provide constant supervision, and remove things that might cause self-harm.
Call 911 for emergency assistance if your child is at immediate risk. Other numbers to call are the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or the Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741741). Also get help from the school and/or community mental health resources as soon as possible.
After the crisis is over, continue to talk.
Help ground them by talking about things that make them feel supported and connected, such as reminders of family, peer, and community relationships and/or cultural or religious beliefs that promote healthy living. Their treatment may include talk therapy or medication. Do not judge but offer hope. Let them know that help is available and that these feelings are temporary. Let them know that they are special and important to you.
ABOUT THE EXPERTS
Lorran Garrison is a school psychologist in San Diego, and has spoken about mental health awareness and suicide ideation at Comic-Con International: San Diego, and other conventions.
The National Writing Project focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation’s educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners. NWP, the nation’s foremost network for teacher professional development, is proud to support the Zuiker Press initiative.
Our plan to help children with our graphic novels is simple. We raise private funding from people, companies, and foundations who care about children. Those donations allow us to make them available to teachers, counselors, and school libraries and to spread the word about these compelling true stories to school districts that need these books.
We also provide downloadable guides to each book for teachers as added resources, often at no charge to the teachers.
Do you want to save a child’s life? Our graphic novels do just that by healing and providing hope to those who need it most. Reading is power. Your gift will be designated to support the Zuiker Press School Book Fund, and with your generous gift, more schools will be able to take advantage of the important work that Zuiker Press is doing to help young people tell the stories of their resilience in meeting the challenges that young people face today.