August 01, 2012 - Oxford resident Michelle Hrischuk was particularly delighted to see so many people – from parents and kids to teachers and counselors – participate in the suicide prevention event held Saturday morning at Seymour Lake Township Park.
Oxford resident Michelle Hrischuk, whose 14-year-old son Shane took his own life back in January, was pleased to see so many people participate in the Oxford/Lake Orion Suicide Prevention 5K Run/Walk held Saturday at Seymour Lake Twp. Park. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
"I can't believe the turnout," she said. "I love seeing the teachers here because they sometimes know our kids better than we do."
Back in late January, her son, Shane Hrischuk, 14, a popular eighth-grader at Oxford Middle School, took his own life. His sudden death made a profound impact on the entire community.
Michelle was extremely grateful for all the support her family received in the wake of that tragedy.
"We didn't even know (Shane) was that loved," she said.
That support took the form of donations, cards, kind words, prayers, meals for the family and newspaper articles.
"The community gave us so much, especially you and your paper," she said.
Continued community support is still "what keeps us going right now," Michelle noted.
Although she did not address the crowd, Michelle thought it important to attend and participate in Saturday's event.
"We want to give back to the community and help spread awareness," she said. "We're trying to talk to as many people as we can."
Michelle admitted it can be "a difficult thing" to "get out of bed and keep going each day."
"I see parents and (other) people that don't do that," she said. "We're just trying to show people you can do it and help others."
Shane left behind no note or other explanation as to why he ultimately decided to take his own life.
Michelle explained that Shane didn't exhibit any of the classic warning signs of a potentially suicidal person. There were no signs of mental illness or depression in his case.
The only category he fit in with regard to being at-risk for suicide was being a teenager, a group prone to making impulsive decisions.
"It was an impulse," she said. "That happens a lot with boys."
"Sometimes, there are no warning signs," Michelle noted. "You just have to keep talking to your kids."
Following his death, Shane's family learned that he'd been involved in an argument with some friends.
Michelle characterized the situation as "typical teenage stuff, nothing serious."
"Nothing that would cause you to take your life," she continued. "But to him, it was a big deal. He thought that it was something that he couldn't handle. He thought (that) maybe he was going to get in trouble at school. He'd never been in trouble, so that was hard for him to handle.
"He was a perfectionist. He helped other people. He didn't hurt other people's feelings. But he hurt someone's feelings (during this argument and) they hurt his. He didn't know how to handle that. You just never know."
Although Shane is gone, parts of him live on in the bodies of five individuals he helped by donating his organs.
"He was a perfect 14-year-old, six-foot kid, so he donated to adults, not children," Michelle said.
His pancreas and right kidney went to a 29-year-old man. Shane's left kidney was received by a 46-year-old man, while his liver was given to a 58-year-old man. As for Shane's heart, that went to a 55-year-old man and one of his lungs is now breathing life into another 55-year-old man.
"We're hoping to meet those people someday," Michelle added.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.