I grew up in a town of about 10,000 people. When I was in high school, in the course of 18 months, four students died from suicide by gun.
First the quarterback of the football team.
The last two were dealing with teen pregnancy. One soon-to-be father and the other who was many months pregnant and no one knew.
The second one was Kurt. I’d known him since kindergarten; he was one of 30 kids in our whole grade in grade school; he was my “boyfriend” for a bit in fifth grade, and he was always in my home room with a locker nearby because our last names started with the same letter. I remember where I was when I heard, where I sat at the funeral, where he’s buried in our small church cemetery. We weren’t close by sophomore year; yet I still remember and I can’t fathom how his friends and family must have felt.
By the end of the 18 months, any time someone was crying in the halls, the immediate question to ask was who had died.
Kurt never graduated high school. He never got to 16. It could have been so different.