Suicide Warnings

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Family and friends say there were signs in the weeks and months leading up to the tragic ending of two Panama City Beach teens.

“We went through some of the papers that Ashlyn and Jeremy wrote, and it was shocking. It was shocking. Something pushed them to do this. They thought there was no other way, but there is," says Stephanie Brooks, Jeremy Hightower's aunt.

Local counselors say it's a common mistake not to talk about suicide because of the stigma it has in our society.

"People think if you talk about it it will put it in their head. It really doesn't work that way," says counselor Carrie Poplin of the Life Management Center.

Poplin says teachers and parents must talk to their children about suicide, especially after an incident as tragic as this.

"A lot of teens who have friends who have committed suicide are more likely to have thoughts about it," says Poplin.

Poplin says heed the warning signs and don't be afraid to do a little snooping into your child's life.

She says your child may be suicidal if they make comments like "I can't go on" or "nothing matters anymore," if they're behaving recklessly or giving away their valued possessions, if they show a marked change in behavior or appearance, or even if they're abusing drugs or alcohol.

The family of Pecori and Highwater say the signs are all too familiar and they wish they would have acted on them before it was too late.

"Don't be afraid to be too involved. We didn’t find out these things until it was too late. We did find out way too late," says Brooks.

The Life Management Center of Panama City has a 24-hour hotline for anyone feeling suicidal, no matter what age. That number is 769-9481.