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Readers address teen suicide and Parkland shooting

Readers address teen suicide and Parkland shooting
Students and community members come together during a memorial for Taylor Campbell, a student who committed suicide on March 1, 2013, at La Cañada High School. One of his friends writes this week about newly introduced legislation that aims to reduce teen suicides. (Libby Cline / La Cañada Valley Sun)

Five years ago today — March 1 — La Cañada High School student Campbell Taylor took his life on the school's campus. The thought of his passing still weighs heavily on my heart.

I had only seen him months before at the Starbucks by the UA theater in La Cañada. He had compiled a few copies of the Spartan newspaper, where we were both on the staff the year prior, to deliver to me.

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I had not asked for electronic copies, but Campbell, who always went the extra mile, also produced a flash drive with PDFs of all 10 issues of the school newspaper from the 2011-12 school year.

That flash drive has not left my key chain since that day. Every time I look at it, I'm reminded of all the good memories we shared in the newsroom. But I always wonder if I could have done something or said something to help him. I wonder if there was something we could have all done, as a community, to help him.

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I think Senate Bill 972, introduced by La Cañada's own state Sen. Anthony Portantino, is a step in the right direction. The bill proposes to require all California schools serving students in grades 7-12 to have printed on student identification cards the phone number for a suicide prevention hotline.

Too many of us know someone who has lost a life to suicide. We must do everything we can to prevent student suicides. Thank you, Sen. Portantino, for introducing this legislation.

Kevork Kurdoghlian

La Cañada Flintridge

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Like everyone, I'm reeling at the news of yet another horrific shooting of our children in this country. Since Sandy Hook, I've been riveted by the courage shown by the parents of those Sandy Hook children we lost, and have done my little bit to help them.

Today, I have to do more. Yes, there are calls to make to Congress, letters to write, money to donate, laws to change. We have lost 17 more of our children. Yes, they are our children. There is more we can do.

We in this community can think it couldn't happen here. That's what Parkland families who lived in the safest city in Florida thought. And now we are hearing that there were warning signs seen and felt by people who knew the shooter, signs that — if someone had spoken up — perhaps this 19-year-old could have been stopped.

There are steps we can do locally to increase our capacity as communities to look out for and care for one another. Sandy Hook Promise has a program called "Start with Hello" that does one simple thing — it makes sure no one eats alone. And there is another program, "Say Something," that helps us recognize the signs of a potential threat, and teaches us how to speak up.

These are free programs, and do not take a lot of time from curricula. They could save lives.

I am a Sandy Hook Promise leader and I want to do more. If you are interested in bringing one of these programs to our schools, you can contact Sandy Hook at programs@sandyhookpromise.org directly. Gun violence is a huge systemic issue. One often feels helpless to bring about change. But let us each do one thing toward a solution. Let us never say we wish we had done more.

Mary Luck

Glendale

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