Letter: Coping With an Epidemic

To the Editor:

Thank you so much for printing “Ashley’s Story” in the June 23 Sunday Valley News. Much love and gratitude need to go to her parents for sharing it at such a difficult time.

Suicide has become an epidemic among our teenagers, fueled by stigma, bullying and misunderstanding. There is a great book called Behind Happy Faces by Ross Szabo that is written for teens and young adults, but should be required reading for any of us raising or teaching teens in these challenging times. The Vermont Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health is currently involved in an anti-stigma campaign. The Vermont chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness has resources available to those wishing to increase their understanding of the issue. It is important to note that while substance abuse didn’t factor into Ashley DeMond’s death, many teens with mental health issues fall victim to co-occurring substance use to numb the pain or fit in. We as a community need to do everything in our power to increase understanding of mental health and support our teens as they work to become mature, accepting adults.

Denise Johnson

White River Junction


Ashley’s Story: Hartford Family Shares Pain of Daughter’s Struggle, Suicide

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hartford — The music, country and pop, mostly, was almost always playing in the tiny bedroom on the apartment’s second floor. It was as if Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood and Selena Gomez lived in that room. Or at least, it sounded that way. Occasionally, neighbors in the Northwoods apartment complex, which sits on a hill above downtown White River Junction, …