Suicide Prevention

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It's rarely talked about in the media, in school, or even at home.

There's a stigma attached to the issue of teen suicide, and a local mother whose son took his own life seven months ago wants to change people's perception of suicide. She is inviting local teenagers to remember the life of her son, Justin Meier, and talk openly about preventing suicide.

Fifteen-year-old Justin Meier would have turned 16 years old Monday. His friends and family are gathering at the Downtown Cafe to celebrate his Birthday, but the guest of honor is only here in memory.

Justin committed suicide just seven months ago. Justin's mother, Terry Meier, says she was surprised to see that no one really wanted to talk about her son's death and some of Justin's friends were not allowed to attend his funeral. She would like to see more prevention programs put into place in local schools.

There are certified counselors in each school ready to talk to kids about any problems they're having, but Bay County school officials admit there is fine line of what they can and cannot do when it comes to suicide.

"You want to reach out to any student in need, but you also don't want to glamorize the suicide. You always have to worry about copycats. I hate the word copycat, but that's what it is," says Joan Harris of Bay County Student Services.

Harris says overall Bay County does not have a big problem with teen suicides. She says teens can talk to any school counselor or teacher if they are feeling suicidal or think their friend may be contemplating suicide.

There is no hotline here in Bay County, but Harris says teens should not hesitate to call police if they or their friend is seriously contemplating suicide.