Suicide rates rising in young kids

Published: Feb. 23, 2017 at 3:33 PM CST
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Suicide is now the leading cause of death for 10-14 year-olds, and the numbers are rising.

October 12, 2015: Makrae Mielak will never forget the day her first born son left this world.

"That night, everything seemed so normal," said Mielak. "I'm still shocked that it's real."

Bodie's pain began far before that night. His love was baseball; he was a catcher. An injury and then a tumor lead to surgeries.

"He never really got his arm back," said Mielak.

At 15, no longer able to play baseball and a falling out with a family member, hit Bodie hard.

"He would have really depressing times and sad times," said Mielak.

She said Bodie started rebelling and not making curfew, but still, he was enrolled in college. He had lifelong friends. As the depression hung on, she got him counseling.

"I was trying anything," Makrae said.

It was a Sunday night, just 18 months after Bodie's struggles first surfaced.

"Before he went downstairs to play he was like 'thanks for dinner, I love you.'"

The next morning, changed Makrae's life forever.

"I flipped on his light like I normally do and he wasn't in his bed. And then I found him. It was too late, too. There was nothing I could do," Makrae said through tears.

There was no note. Seventeen-year-old Bodie died by suicide. His death, at such a young age, is an alarming trend. Kids younger and younger are ending their lives.

"Statistically in Nebraska, 10-14, suicide is the leading cause of death for that age group," said Julia Heibenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation.

Julia has been there more than five years. The foundation aims to raise suicide awareness and offer help. Julia says social media plays a factor in suicides, but it isn't the main cause of what the foundation is seeing.

"Our kids aren't being taught healthy coping mechanisms and the resiliency piece. People always say kids are so resilient, but really resiliency is a skill that needs to be taught and learned and honed over time," said Julia.

Julia says it truly takes a village to raise a child. Kids need trusted adults in their lives. They don't always tell their parents everything. And it is important as parents to always remind your kids there is nothing they can do that will make you stop loving them.

"When they are that young it is hard to grasp the finality of what they are doing," said Julia.

Makrae cherishes the month before Bodie died. She said it was the best month their family had in a really long time.

She later found out that night he had an argument with a girl over the phone, but she feels it was 18-months of fighting depression that finally pushed him to the edge.

"I know that over time if you fight through it and put the work in... that living is a way better alternative than leaving because there is so much hurt that's left behind, too. And I wish he was still here," Makarae said.

And as she holds a quilt made entirely of Bodie's favorite baseball shirts, she hopes her pain will save anyone who is watching her story.

"My son died by suicide, but depression took his life. I think he fought a really good fight."

The Kim Foundation says there are many symptoms to look for. Those include: Withdrawal, Changes in Sleep, Risky Behavior, Saying Goodbye, Excessive Drinking, Talking Or Writing About Wanting To Die, Feeling Hopeless, and Giving Away Possessions.

You can find a complete list of symptoms at

Suicide takes a life every 13 minutes. Know the Signs. Change the Stats.


Boys Town National Hotline: 800.448.3000

Safe Harbor Warm Line Number: 402.715.4226

The Trevor Project: 866.488.7386

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741741

Nebraska Family Helpline: 888.866.8660

Veteran's Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.TALK, press 1

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