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Oklahoma City Couple’s Suicide Leaves Sad Questions : Tragedy: Woman, 21, and boyfriend, 17, jumped off a parking garage. Her parents say their grief is compounded by not knowing why.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Twenty-one-year-old Nikki Bly clasped hands with her boyfriend, 17-year-old Eric Stoneburner, and the two stepped off the top of a seven-story, downtown garage.

“There’s so many unanswered questions,” said her father, Charles Bly.

The young couple had worked together at a restaurant, usually during the graveyard shift on the weekend, manager Farah Sirmanshahi said.

“They were boyfriend and girlfriend,” Sirmanshahi said. “They liked each other a lot. They were always talking in this corner, in that corner.”

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The Blys, however, didn’t know Stoneburner well. Bly said the two often played video games in his daughter’s bedroom or did Stoneburner’s algebra homework.

“Until he died, I didn’t even know his last name,” Bly said.

“We don’t know who initiated it,” Bly said. “There’s no way of knowing whose despair was deepest.”

For several months, Nikki had been living at her parents’ home in Midwest City, on the southeastern edge of Oklahoma City.

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Bly and his wife, Cheryl, said that in the days before her death Nov. 1, their daughter seemed fine--the same intelligent, kind soul they had always known.

“She kept some things inside,” Cheryl Bly said. “Everybody keeps some things inside. Other than that, she was very outgoing.”

The young woman often helped her grandmother with charity rummage sales at church. She quither restaurant job in September to be with her dying grandfather, Cheryl Bly said.

“She spent all her time at the hospital. She was so strong, so good. It amazed me that she could go through that,” she said.

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Friends and teachers at Carl Albert High School, where Stoneburner had recently transferred, said he was even-tempered and never seemed upset or depressed.

“He was happy he got a new girlfriend and that she really cared about him,” said Cody Clifton, 16.

Stoneburner’s family did not return calls for comment.

Two security guards watched, helpless, from the ground floor as the couple held hands and plunged from the roof of a parking garage.

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Charles Bly is adamant that the deaths should not be romanticized. He recalled hearing a psychologist discuss the tragedy on the radio afterward, referring to the suicides as “a Romeo and Juliet thing.”

“We don’t want it to be glamorized,” he said. “It’s the most horrid, despicable crime against their families. Against themselves. They had futures, whether it was together or with someone else.”

The Blys hope to create a sense of closure with their involvement in a suicide prevention hot line.

“If it were a car accident, we could accept it. I might be angry, I might be mad, but I would have closure. Had she been in the [bombed federal] building, I could have been mad at somebody,” Charles Bly said.

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He hopes that his daughter’s death might stop others considering suicide.

“Any child that is on the edge, with their relationship strained, with their families tugging and pulling, don’t do this. It’s not what it’s cracked up to be,” he said softly.

“What they leave behind is just the worst disaster.”


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