VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Five teen suicides in just four months: That startling statistic is bringing together families in Vancouver.
“We have like five of these,” said Brad Hazen as he unrolled butcher paper filled with scribbled notes from classmates. “They all say the same thing, that I miss you.”
They miss 15 year-old A.J. Hazen -- a freshman at Battle Ground High School who caused his father to ask the ultimate daily question.
“Why didn’t we see this coming?” Hazen asked as he choked back tears.
His father says if only he had seen the warning signs of slipping grades, smoking marijuana, missing class.
“I thought it was just normal teenager growing pains,” said Hazen.
But it wasn’t for him or four other teens at five separate high schools all across the Vancouver area. Five teens who thought life had became too much. And one local group says enough is enough. “Unite 4 Life” is holding an open seminar Thursday in Vancouver for concerned parents.
“Our mission is helping hurting students. We will give a full education program, understanding depression, warning signs knowing how to help,” said Aaron Chidesder, the director for Unite 4 Life.
A.J.’s dad said he tried, taking him to numerous counselors. But on the day of his death he gave his first and only clue of the heartache to come.
“A.J. said, 'all I want is a bullet and a gun,' and then said, 'Oh, I’m just kidding.' I knew he was upset, I knew he was upset. He said, ‘Dad, I just want to go in my bedroom for a little bit before we go’ and I said, ‘Fine.’ It was only about five minutes later I heard a gunshot and he took his life outside his window. I immediately went out to help…but it was too late. It was within five seconds and it was done,” described Hazen.
The family said key warning signs like depression, pushing friends or family away, not doing homework should be taken seriously and parents have to act immediately.