Yamhill County copes with rash of teen suicides — (KATU2)

Original article no longer available

KATU2

By Anna Song and KATU Web Staff

Nov 23, 2005

YAMHILL COUNTY – When 16-year-old Andrea Huff took her life in the parking lot of Yamhill-Carlton High School in September, the community was saddened by the loss.
Now there is more grief to endure because two other teenagers, one of whom attended the same high school, have taken their lives as well – 16-year-old Craig Woods and 17-year-old Cody Damm. Woods, a student at Dayton High School, shot himself with his father’s gun last Saturday night and Damm, a student at Yamhill-Carlton High School, went out to the family barn Thursday morning and hanged himself.
“We were very shocked and surprised and we sure don’t understand why kids do these things these days,” said Craig’s uncle, Jeff Woods. “We need to get the word out there that these kids need help.”
Officials with Yamhill-Carlton High School will not confirm this information, but those who live in Yamhill tell KATU News as many as 30 kids at the high school are being monitored for depression.
While no one knows why the two teenage boys made the decision to end their lives, the father of Andrea Huff says he understands what led to his daughter’s suicide.
Back in September, Brent Huff told KATU News that Andrea had a severe eating disorder and at one point weighed just 87 pounds.
“What she saw in the mirror was the little 10-year-old girl with the baby fat and she just never got past that,” he said at the time.
Her parents sought treatment for her, which included anti-depressants. She had gone off her medication just a few months before taking her own life with a gun in the high school parking lot.
Suicide scars start of school year in Yamhill.
Without drawing any direct conclusion, KATU News has learned that Craig Woods had also stopped taking an antidepressant called Lexipro just a few months ago. Cody Damm was still on Lexipro when he took his life.
Aside from the connection the teenagers shared, Jeff Woods says there is something else that needs to be considered.   “People need to get more involved when there is a problem or even some of the minor issues need to be addressed right from the start,” he said.
Officials with Yamhill-Carlton High School say they are doing everything they can to help kids get through their grief.

However, they admit that neither of the two counselors on staff are licensed mental health professionals, nor were any members of the crisis team brought in.

Family members of the teenagers say that getting any sort of help for their troubled kids, especially in a rural area, is challenging.

Both of the high schools involved have had ministers come on campus and make themselves available for kids.
They have also provided safe rooms for students to visit if they find they are having trouble getting through their grief.