Elizabeth Bastian / Managing Editor
Elizabeth Bastian / Managing Editor

By ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Managing Editor

As I was dragging myself out of bed this morning, a young man decided to take his life in a middle school bathroom. And since then, the speculation about how and why this happened has been non-stop.

Belonging to the sectors of the media that have to provide coverage of these kinds of events is a hard job, and I hold a lot of respect the reporters, photographers, cameramen, and producers who are forced to see some things that no one should ever have to see. However, there is often a lack of respect in the fight to obtain the latest scoop, to get all the details possible. Right now, it doesn’t matter what the boy’s name was, what he did or did not write in his note, or how he got the gun into school. What matters is that a 14 year old had so much pain inside of him that he could not live with it anymore. What matters is that a 14 year old felt that the only way he could feel better was to put a gun to his head. What matters is that his parents, siblings, friends, and teachers will never get to see him again. Let them grapple with the horrific realities in peace, please.

Scrolling through the comments on various local news websites, I could not believe how political some readers were making this event. Ever since the Newtown shootings just over three months ago, the gun control debates have run rampant; but this was not the only issue being discussed. As I combed through boards talking about the entitlement of this generation, why parents shouldn’t shelter their children, and the consequences of a “liberal method of child rearing,” I could not believe what I was seeing. There were even comments going back and forth about whether God exists or should be allowed in schools, and why such an omnipotent being would let this happen. It makes me sick to my stomach that some folks would use the suicide of an eighth grader as a champion to their cause. It doesn’t matter whether you have the Second Amendment tattooed across your back, or whether you think violent video games are the root of all evil. A suicide by gunshot to the head is not, and will never be, the forum for such a political or religious debate. This is the place and time to be sending positive energy, thoughts, and prayers towards the family of the victim and the staff and students of that middle school. If you are truly selfish enough to turn this into a personal rant about governmental policies or religion: Shame. On. You.

One thing I saw that further disturbed me was the quantification of the shooting. “Very sad, but I am thankful he didn’t feel he had to take anyone else with him.” Saying one tragedy is worse than another, or that it could have been worse, gets into a whole gray area of emotions that I feel should never be delved into. Try telling this boy’s parents that this isn’t “as bad” as some past incidents where guns were brought to school. Keep these thoughts to yourself – they will get you nowhere, and do nothing to alleviate the situation.

I would like to end with a plea to school districts everywhere, not just in Southgate. Please, please, please don’t simply cover up the damage and put on a show of better security. This is not the time for armed guards keeping watch over the school entry ways. This is the time to bring in more counselors, encourage peer mediation, and to provide a safe haven for these children so that they never, ever feel this kind of pain. Counseling for the next few weeks, even months, is not enough in the aftermath of such tragic events like this. There needs to be an ongoing discussion between students and teachers, between parents and children, and among the students themselves about how to treat other people, and how to take care of one’s self.

Now is the time to ask – are you happy? Now is the time to say – I am here for you. I care about you. I accept you. I love you.

Because until this happens, and until the root of causes of such immense emotional pain is dealt with, this is going to continue to occur.

  • Adam Demamp

    no1curr

  • A very well written story and my thoughts and prayers are with the family of this young man

  • daveginsberg

    Thank you for the story. i couldn’t believe some of the comments on clickondetroit.com this morning :-(

  • As a parent of a student at Davidson Middle School ……… Thank you!!! I too have been reading through the comments with disgust in what some people would do or say. Let me say one thing to everybody that reads this its not a good feeling when your son texts you from school saying that the school is on lock-down, cops are there and he is sitting on the floor in to dark with the door locked. Because the school didn’t know whether it was self inflicted or if there was a gun man in the school. you feel very helpless. My thoughts and prayers go out to that boys family and the southgate police and fire that arrived on scene. not to mention the child that found him like that. So again I thank you for writing this article.

  • Patti Margarita

    This was so well stated. Thank you.

  • Im also a parent of a student at Davidson. And I also thank you for a well written piece that is sensitive to the tragedy at hand.

  • Such a very well written article, Elizabeth

  • The young man was my friends brother. I know that she is outraged that the media is turning this into another bullying situation; which according to her, wasn’t the case. I really respect what this article says because honestly, even in such a short time, the focal point of this tragedy was lost. This boy (out of respect to the family I wont give out his name) felt such desperation that he saw no other choice than to take his life. Why he felt like he had no where to turn is something I’ll never understand. I know his sister adored him. I know he could have turned to her and she would have welcomed him with her arms open.

    I think the speculation needs to stop and people need to let this family mourn their loss. This is when we need to band together as a communty and in this boys memory, make sure this young and impressionable generation understand that there IS help for those who feel lost. There ARE people who understand and can empathize. And that death is not the only answer.

  • Shaynes425@gmail.com

    May God be with his family during this very difficult time!

  • Daniel Burk

    As the principal of Christ The King, My heart and prayer goes out to our Neighboring School, the teachers, the students, and the families. We are praying for all of you.

  • colleen baca

    My heart goes out to this family friends the teachers and staff at the school. May God be with all of you.

  • THANK YOU for this article!! It is VERY well written and such a bitter sweet message that we ALL must consider.

  • What disturbs me about this article is right at the beginning your “business card” is first and foremost with you smiling like nothing tragic had happened. It is easy for others to pinpoint others’ flaws or actions, not so much pointing out our own. Where you might think that picture of you is ok, I do not. Where others think that talking about gun control or rights right now is ok, others do not ( I do not). I suggest a different photo or none at all when writing about a tragedy such as this.

    • That’s her general pic…wth?

    • mposh

      Seriously, it’s a byline pic . I’m quite certain she did not have this pic taken after writing the article. Should they have a collection of photos representing moods for every situation? You’re are simply an ass looking for something to comment on.

    • most writers have a pic with their article, I didn’t even notice it. what she wrote was spot on and beautiful.

    • What disturbs me about this post is right at the beginning your “business card” is first and foremost with you not smiling like everything tragic has happened to you….Marty get over your self

    • Me

      I felt the same way Marty. Don’t worry about it.

    • Olive

      Your an idiot. That’s her picture for the articles she writes. You obviously have nothing better to do than point out whats wrong with this article. I think she is speaking the complete truth. Get over yourself.

    • She said all that, and you want to talk about her picture?!? Focus, Marty.

    • Kathleen King

      It’s the stock photo of her, get over yourself.

  • Chatty Cathy

    I agree with everything EXCEPT I DO believe it is a time to talk security. I DO want to know how he got a gun in school. I am not in any way downplaying the situation. It is truly tragic and very upsetting. My heart goes out to the students, parents and faculty. I think as a parent it is only natural to want to protect your children and incidents like this stir feelings of “How can I prevent my child from suffering this inner turmoil and how can I ensure that my child is safe once he/she enters the school?” We should not be criticized for having those feelings and vocalizing them.

  • Blackaton

    Beautifully written and very well said.

  • All of my love and prayers to Tyler and his family & friends. May he rest in peace. God bless <3

  • DaTrooth

    Excuse me for just one second, if I may be so bold as to interject here… While I, too, don’t care to delve into or know every intimate detail of this young man’s decision to take his life, it is important to know why he chose to do so and how he was able to access a gun and bring it into the school, unnoticed. I’m sorry but it is. No, we don’t need to know his name but if there were reasons stated in his suicide note about why he chose to make this decision, what if someone else in that school is experiencing the same things and contemplating with the idea of taking their own life? Maybe another life can be saved by knowing that yes, someone else was dealing with the same issues but look around, the way he chose to deal with it was selfish and wrong. And yes, it is important to know how he was able to gain access to a gun and bring it into school without anyone noticing because other lives might be spared because they may keep the gun in their home in the same place, accessible to their kids. And whether they get a hold of it and hurt themselves or someone else, intentionally or accidentally, maybe a parent will make their weapons less easy for their children to get to. And maybe schools will take better notice at how a weapon got into the school because maybe another child will bring in a concealed weapon and next time, hurt others instead. I don’t think the information is off limits to the public. This boy chose to do this in a public place and put others at risk, whether we want to believe or hear it or not. It’s the truth. Do I think we should be banging down the door of the family to get information? No. Of course not. But I don’t know why we’re so afraid to ask the tough questions and hear the tough answers. Political, religious, or not, we are entitled to know the information because somewhere in the answers, might lie a kernel of truth or a lesson to be learned by others who are contemplating the same actions. And to say, “At least he didn’t take anyone with him.” What’s wrong with that? Thank goodness he didn’t. With all of the mass shootings these days that end with the perpetrator taking his life in the end so he doesn’t have to deal with his actions, I am relived, not that the boy committed suicide, but that he didn’t feel the need to kill other people first. Yes, the whole incident is unfortunate, sad, tragic, and all other words that could only be used to describe this horrible situation but the facts remain the same – a child was hurting so bad and nobody noticed, he brought a concealed weapon into school and nobody noticed, he left a note explaining why he did what he did and finally someone noticed, he took his life and someone noticed. If we can get answers to the hard questions before they have to be asked after someone kills themselves, then maybe we can save a life. Yes, let the family grieve privately. No, I don’t care to know his name, but everything else, I do want to know about because if we don’t have the information to learn from, how is this ever going to stop. Once again, another writer/blogger, pussy-footing around the real, tough issues. I’m sorry that the other students, staff, and parents had to go through this horrible incident but if we stay hush-hush about it and not try to understand the warning signs, nothing is ever going to change. We need to toughen up a little bit as a society and yes, kids need to toughen up too. I wasn’t like by everyone in jr. high, high school, even grade school. I was picked-on, people looked at me cross-eyed, but I learned to cope and realize that 10 years from now, it’s not going to matter what Jim Smith called me on Tuesday, January 10th, at 2:23 in the afternoon. Kids need to develop a thicker skin, speak-up and talk to someone if another person won’t leave them alone, and stop labeling everything as “bullying.” Not every unkind word or look means you’re being “bullied.” You do your best as a parent to teach your kids to have a healthy self-esteem, stand-up for themselves, and find an adult when you cannot fix the problem yourself. But when you keep it to yourself and consider everything anyone says and does that bothers you or upsets you as being “bullied” than you have a hyper-sensitivity and need to talk to a professional. Life is tough. Sometimes it downright sucks but killing yourself is not the way to deal with it. But if you do decide to use that as a way of coping with your pain, then be prepared to be analyzed and talked about because aren’t we doing what hurt that person in the first place, by not talking about him or her? I’m tired of everyone being so hyper-sensitive all the time and making such selfish decisions, like suicide. I’m sorry. Suicide, unless you are severely mentally ill and do not know right from wrong, is the most unbelievably selfish act and doing it at a school because you’re bullied is like saying, “Look what you mean people made me do.” But good idea, let’s ignore the situation and act like it never happened. and make a shrine to this kid who it sounds like, had a lot of people who cared about him and would’ve helped him.

  • Thank you.

  • Thank you! I believe I speak for most of us Southgate parents when I say this was very thoughtful of you and you are absolutely correct.

  • Allison

    Thank you for this. I lost a very good friend to suicide a couple months ago. There’s no amount of political hyperbole that will bring back her, this child, or anyone else who has gone in such a way. The fact is that in today’s world, young people come face-to-face with the reality of suicide, a topic once too taboo to bring up, and the dialogue needs to be there to prevent future tragedy. I hope that this school and others across the country have utilized every available resource to help kids talk about suicide and raise awareness, because ignoring the problem is sure to make it worse.

  • He was 13.

  • I so agree, but so many will not listen :(

  • Such a tragedy. My heart goes out to the family and all concerned.

  • Excellent article. Very well said.

  • Very good story, I wish everyone would read and follow the advice!

  • Joe J

    You speak bad about folks trying to make this a religion thing or a political thing. You last paragraph says it all:

    This is the time to bring in more counselors, encourage peer mediation, and to provide a safe haven for these children so that they never, ever feel this kind of pain. Counseling for the next few weeks, even months, is not enough in the aftermath of such tragic events like this. There needs to be an ongoing discussion between students and teachers, between parents and children, and among the students themselves about how to treat other people, and how to take care of one’s self.

    Isn’t this what has been happening in schools the last 15-20 years? This why these things will continue to happen and nothing will break the cycle. The tragic thing is that no one has the courage to tell folks what needs to be done. Counseling? PLEASE! In education there is no such thing. the schools are so worried of being sued that they can;t say or recommend anything to these kids. The children are smart enough to know that too. As long as there is non-existent parenting/involvement and parents are allowed to sue school districts, the tragic moment will continue to happen.

    Take the bullying issue for example, was this just allowed back in the day and we were just more adjusted? NO, bullying happened back in the day, but someone was there to stop it. Whether another student or teacher or principle. The bully would get some kind of punishment/consequences. But with all of our Political Correctness and wimpy ways it took a barrage of Suicides to make something happen.

    If we allow our educators to get more involved in the students lives like they used to, and allow htem to report to the parents things like, “hey Mrs Jones your daughter has been hanging out with the wrong crowd the last few weeks and I noticed a chance in her behavior”. A teacher is NOT allowed to things like that any more.

    To go even a step further and talk abut other tragedies that have been happening, the disturbed children that come into the schools and shoot up everything. Why didn’t those things happen back in the day? I can remember a boat load of kids that were capable of doing things like that. In my opinion it was because teachers and staff and the old church ladies in teh school were able to get involved with the kids. They were able to hug them and talk to them with out worrying about be sued by parents. You want to talk about the tradegy that is happening in schools today it is the dis-engaged society we have created with our educators and their staff towards our children. that is whrere the tradegy begins and ends.

    • Jennifer Blackledge

      Joe, I do not want to get in a debate with you, but I want to make clear that your characterization of educators does not describe ANY of the teachers my children have had or now have in the public school system. They care just as much as they always have…which in most cases is deeply.

  • There are a number of rebukes in this article that are commendable; so much speculation and ranting in the media and the blogosphere is utterly unhelpful to those grieving the death of their child. But I think the writer needs to clarify some points she makes. For example, the following statements raise more questions than they provide helpful guidance:
    “A suicide by gunshot to the head is not, and will never be, the forum for such a political or religious debate.”
    “Keep these thoughts to yourself – they will get you nowhere, and do nothing to alleviate the situation.”
    “…until the root of causes of such immense emotional pain is dealt with, this is going to continue to occur.”
    On the one hand, Ms. Bastian seems to be saying we should not, as a society, express our thoughts about why these things happen and what is wrong with us (collectively) that these tragedies happen. In short, “no soul searching allowed.” That some people are less than kind in their soul searching or in the exercise of their first amendment rights is not a basis for telling them they need to keep their thoughts to themselves. I gather from this article that Ms. Bastian would only permit certain people to discuss this matter, and preferably it will be those who do not address the question of “what is wrong with us?” Only those who send “positive thoughts and energy” towards the grieving family are really capable of talking about this tragedy.
    On the other hand, Ms. Bastian notes that we have to deal “with the root causes of such immense emotional pain.” How, I ask, do we deal with root causes if we are not permitted to talk about what they might be? And if we do not talk about them at a time like this, if we are not spurred to soul searching as a result of a tragedy of such proportion, then when should we do it? How will we ever get at root causes if certain ideas, so disagreeable to Ms. Bastain, are taken off the table?
    Ms. Bastian’s solution is to bring in the “experts” – the counselors – our modern priests, who can create “a safe haven for these children so that they never, ever feel this kind of pain.” Yes, we need the counselors, who will only talk about certain things like feelings and happiness and self esteem and never feeling pain, and banish all thoughts of serious soul searching. Well, we have a few decades of the “experts” telling us essentially good people what to do and how to raise children and how to treat others. This young man’s death is evidence that the priests of modern America don’t have the answers we need to prevent such tragedies, and that perhaps, just perhaps, we need to raise the discomfiting questions that Ms. Bastian would prefer to silence.

  • Well said Elizabeth. Comfort, support and kindness are always needed when dealing with suicide. It can become a tragic waterfall with more kids having thoughts of suicide also. Community awareness and compassion/love are needed in mass quantities. Prayers for the child s family.

  • Dude its a picture for her job! Ur the type of person this article covers. Thought it was great. A child died yesterday, that is the worst news I think I can hear. Prayers for his family and school.

  • Right on….

  • most schools dont have metal detectors and they dont pat you down when you walk in. It isnt hard to get a gun in a normal school, its common sense…you simply put it in your backpack and walk in. Its sad that its that easy but most schools are not going to force their students to go through metal detectors and TSA-like security everytime they walk into school.

  • What do you mean how did he get the gun in school? He put it in his backpack and walked in. Its not rocket science. Most normal schools dont have metal detectors. Schools are not gonna make students go through airport-like security everytime they walk in the door.

    • Chatty Cathy

      You missed my entire point. I just didn’t want to be criticized for asking those questions. Yet, you are criticizing. You must not have children because if you did, you would want every effort made to ensure the safety of your children, as well as, every child in the community. Maybe airport-like security is needed every time they walk in the door. I wasn’t looking for a debate. I just didn’t appreciate the journalist implying that I was unkind or uncaring for having those feelings. There is no denying that preventative measures need to be taken.

      • R.I.P It should not be about how he got the gun in the school or that we should have security in our schools, Where did he get the gun !!!!!!

        • jim

          Probably from the night stand in his parents bedroom, as crazy as that sounds.

  • Well said! and I agree! Thanks for saying what I have been thinking since I heard about this tragedy:(

  • Lauren Mulray

    I know what happened. I get what she is trying to say. I think that the medal detectors are fine, hidden ones. Body guards should be there often, not everyday. It will make the kids feel safer and more together. This event has made the whole city closer. We all will do something about it. We need counselors, it will make the kids feel better. From my heart I pray for the family, friends, students, and staff of all of Southgate.

  • Lauren Mulray

    It is freezing outside today. The coldness is the sad energy, the snow is the tears. The sun is Tyler. The sun is out on this cold day because Tyler has made it up to heaven with God and the Angels safely. He is melting away all the cold energy because he wants us to be happy. He is drying up all the tears because he doesn’t want us to be sad. He is looking down on Southgate and his friends and family and saying “I love you, don’t be sad. ” Southgate has just gained a new guardian angel to protect the city and bring it all good. There will be no more harm and sadness. The vigil was gorgeous. He was there with God and the Angels watching all of us come together for him. Southgate has become closer, more of a family. You could feel the love there. The sadness was little, the love was a lifetime. Truly, it was a gathering made in heaven. A gathering made by Tyler. #RIPtyler #flyhighty

  • Well said, thank you Elizabeth

  • Very well said and I agree. Grief counseling is the best action fr this situation. Also my heart goes out to the boys family, along with many prayers.