Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sudden Suicides Continue In Bridgend

"We just don't understand what is going on in Bridgen", says a relative of a young lady who was found hanging in her bathroom.

20-year old Kelly Stephenson was one of three more young people that have killed themselves in the small Welsh town of Bridgend, a nightmare story continuing from our earlier post in January of this year.

Two cousins hung themselves last week. A 16-year old girl hung herself Tuesday.

The London Times talks to "A senior social worker who knows the area well", but no answers seem forthcoming:

"These deaths come out of the blue, without any explanation. It could be a sort of copycat thing, and the net is a likely target. From the cases I’ve been involved with it seems that young people are killing themselves as an extreme reaction to everyday things. They’re not being bullied, they’re not in high-achieving families where they feel they’ve failed. It’s as though they do it without expecting any consequences, and that’s hard to understand."

The UK paper The Mirror talked to many residents of the area who personally knew the kids who hung themselves:

A friend of Kelly's named Rosie said: "It's going crazy in Bridgend and it's not going to stop. No one can understand what is going on."I know seven of the people who killed themselves. People are saying it's got something to do with the internet but I don't believe that. But then I can't explain it either.
"Everyone is talking about Kelly's death. It's awful. I saw her a month ago and she was fine, smiling and laughing."

Yahoo news has some details on this week’s horrible hanging:
Police identified Jenna Parry, 16, as the latest victim. Her body was found hanging from a tree in the woods by a passer-by walking his dog in the village of Cefn Cribwr, five miles from Bridgend.

The papers have quotes from many friends and relatives, many acquaintances and co-workers of the youth that committed suicide. The kids who hung themselves were often even
friends with each other. So it seems safe to presume they did not kill themselves from loneliness.

I read the unnamed social worker's insights with great, overwhelming sadness. Is a generation being raised to view the precious gift of life as such a trivial blessing that they could toss it away with such impunity..? Do they find no treasure in having a family that loves them? Don't they realize how few people can boast of having wealth of that value? What do they understand of "friendship" that having so many friends fuels no sense of obligation, no sense of service, and so little sense of gratitude, towards those friends? Don't they know how many teens are scraping by without any friends at all, and how delighted they would probably be to have half as many as these kids reaching for their hangman's noose?

If someone grows up without family, without friends, they can still live a meaningful life, so long as they live with faith, the belief that life itself is worth living. From that affirming, positive belief you can attract and find friends, you can create and enlarge a family, you can build everything that is truly of lasting value. When cynicism and nihilism exhale their poisons, belching worse pollution than anything that ever came out of a Welsh mining town, you get the bitter fruit from that tree of "knowledge": the conviction that the nullity of death should be the "life" most worth "living".

Godspeed to those left behind, may this be the last of these terrible stories to come out of Bridgend.

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