A family and a community suffered a tragic loss this week after a 14-year-old Auburn girl took her life.
In the midst of their grief, Hannah Olson’s family has chosen to reach out to raise awareness about suicide and make a request for the world to be a kinder place.
We likely will never know the answer to why Hannah took her life, but her family was open about two bully situations she encountered at school and ongoing emotional troubles she dealt with internally.
Both the family’s strength to share their story and their hope that people can be kinder to one another are thoughts to take to heart and put into action.
Hannah’s father, Amos, relayed two bullying-type incidents Hannah experienced as a student. The first occurred at E.V. Cain Charter Middle School. Hannah had made a suicide attempt and when she returned to school a boy she didn’t know asked her, “Why didn’t you finish it?”
The second incident came during the 2012 football season. While at a Del Oro High School game the 14-year-old girl was spit on by boys.
Those experiences are horrible for anyone, especially a young teen. The best outcome now would be for those who acted out or witnessed these events to self-reflect on how they could better treat others with compassion and understanding moving forward.
For those who hear or witness bullying, you must stand up and speak out. Tell an adult, parent or friend who can help.
The two incidents left “deep wounds” to a girl already troubled with low self-esteem and other emotional pain she had been treated for with counseling, medication and care for the past two years.
Sadly, Hannah is not alone.
Del Oro Principal Dan Gayaldo said the number of students with suicidal thoughts has increased in the last two years. Counselor Terry Barker said many families are in crisis whether it’s losing their home, divorce or other factors and parents are not letting kids know it’s OK to talk about it.
Awareness and talking about it can help.
In Hannah’s case, a friend noticed the warning signs before her attempts and notified her parents and a school counselor.
What a wonderful friend to take the time to listen and care about Hannah’s words and then take action.
That’s a lesson worth remembering.
How well do we take the time to care for and listen to our family, friends, acquaintances and strangers?
There have likely been times when most, if not all, of us have not treated others with kindness and patience. It’s hard to self-reflect on our faults and how to be better, but it could have great results if we do.
In talking about his daughter, Amos Olson said he believed she would have wanted the world to be a better place.
“I believe what Hannah wanted was to make the world a more peaceful, beautiful place where people weren’t pressured or where violence and death wasn’t extolled and our standards were a little higher in terms of what we thought we could say and do to another.”
Those are words to heed and put into action.