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Local family takes stand on teen suicide



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November 21, 2012 - Michael Allen was 16-years-old, a Boy Scout and a junior at Goodrich High School.

He enjoyed being outdoors, riding quads, snowmobiles and Jet Skis, hunting, swimming and spending time with his animals.

"Mike had lots of friends," said Janet Allen, his mother. "He spent time with their families, too, including vacation trips across the country. Mike was very outgoing, was good in school, never got in trouble."

But on Nov. 28, 2011, the day after Thanksgiving, Mike took his own life.

"We just didn't have any signs on a daily basis," said Janet. "Mike could just hide it very well. He had some emotional problems—but he never said it. He kept his grades up, he was kind, gentle—not hyper. Was a computer 'techie' and loved his car. When he'd get down on himself— I'd tell him all the great accomplishments he's achieved—how great a person he was."

Marking the one year anniversary of Michael's death—Janet, along with the Allen family, are helping prevent such tragedies in the teen community.

At 7 p.m., Nov. 29, at Goodrich High School Auditorium, Dennis Liegghio, founder of "KnowResolve," a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting mental health and preventing youth suicides, will share his story. Liegghio was 14 when he lost his father to suicide. He blamed himself for his dad's death and struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide for many years following his father's death. Liegghio openly shares his personal story, his music, and tips for coping with stress, depression and emotional overload.

"We need to be aware of just how prevalent teen suicide is today," said Janet. "We need to educate people and not be hush-hush about it or sensationalize suicide. Mike is not the only kid this can happen to—parents need to know the signs to look for on a daily basis."

It was the internal voices in Mike's head that Janet believes would crop up at times.

According to "KnowResolve," suicide is currently the third leading cause of death for youth ages 15 to 24 and approximately 15 percent of high school students seriously consider suicide. Most of them will keep those thoughts a secret. The goal of "KnowResolve is to break the silence and connect them to a new perspective and available resources.

"He was never bullied, he would just not take it from others. For that matter, he would not allow others to be bullied. I believe he bullied himself," she said.

"Mike would tell us that he was fat or that no one liked him," she said. "That's what he saw looking in the mirror. Looking back, you wonder if all that was brewing for many years. Then when he was older he could be in control—the pain would now go away. It (suicide) was a permanent fix to a temporary situation."

For details on"KnowResolve" see

www.knowresolve.org

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