Following the sudden death of a classmate, students at Wellington High School took initiative to raise the spirits of fellow Dukes and find ways to prevent similar tragedies.
Tyson McKinley, 15, was found dead at his home the morning of Sept. 20 after apparently taking his own life.
For their efforts in confronting the situation, Cameron Brinker, Chase Edward Knoll, Jaciah Edwards, and James Feliciano have been named WHS students of the month for September.
Knoll said his own experiences with depression made the loss of his classmate hit extra close to home.
“I just wanted to help in any way possible after we lost Tyson,” he said. “It was so hard to deal with when we all first found out. I used to be in that position. Knowing that others are too is really heartbreaking. I didn’t used to enjoy much in life and didn’t feel like I fit in. I’ve contemplated suicide. Through counseling in the meantime, I’m feeling a lot better.”
Edwards considered going home for the day when she learned of McKinley’s passing but instead went to the school library to speak with others who were grieving.
“I sat down and talked to them and wanted to talk to people I don’t normally talk to,” she said. “You never know what someone is going through at home. You don’t know about their struggles or what they’re facing. It can mean just saying hello or good morning. A smile can brighten someone’s day.”
“Bullying is a big problem and all the kids in school should stand up and say something when they see it happen,” said Brinker. “I want to get more people involved and to understand these issues we’re dealing with.”
Josh Byers, then a junior at WHS, took his own life on May 19, 2016, at the Wellington Reservoir.
According to a recent survey sponsored by Communities That Care of Lorain County, a quarter of area high school students have reported feeling “sad and hopeless” and 15 percent have considered taking their own lives.
Feliciano, a senior, said he hopes to see more instances of bullying revealed as soon as they begin to happen.
“I walked around the school that day and just tried to find people who needed help,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t know what the solution is to bullying. It all depends on the individual person and what they’re going through. It’s up to them if they want to talk about it or not. It never hurts to say something.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.