OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Each year, more than a thousand college students in America die by suicide. Only traffic accidents take more of their lives. A metro mom wants the tragic loss of her son to prompt others to think and talk about depression and suicide in hopes of preventing it.
Jason Arkin's mom, Dr. Karen Arkin, says he was a good kid. He was a best friend to his sister, Jennifer. He was always a perfectionist. Jason would go on to become an Eagle Scout and a National Merit Scholar at Blue Valley Northwest High School.
"People would describe him as a perfect kid. I hate that word perfect. I think it's a terrible word," said Dr. Arkin.
She says her son's perfectionism and his chronic depression were a lethal combination. At age 12, Jason heard a presentation about a young man's depression and suicide.
"And Jason said, 'Mom, I've always been like that guy, and my heart just shattered,'" recalled Dr. Arkin.
She and her husband, Dr. Steven Arkin, are neurologists with Saint Luke's Health System. They got their son treatment, but she says after he turned 18 and went to Northwestern University, they couldn't force him to get treatment.
"For someone who's depressed, especially a male, they just don't ask for help. They really don't," she said.
Dr. Arkin says her son was in a highly competitive electrical engineering program.
"He would say things like he was the dumbest student at Northwestern," she recalled.
In May, just a few weeks before finals, and just five days before his twenty-first birthday, Jason took his own life.
"And I can't understand it. I can't pretend that I'll ever understand it," she said.
Dr. Arkin encourages other parents to talk with their children about their pain, hopelessness and despair. Talk about depression.
"Don't be ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it. You know, never be ashamed to love your child enough to have the difficult conversations with them," she said.
And get them help while you can.
The group Suicide Awareness Survivor Support Missouri-Kansas will hold its annual Remembrance Walk this Sunday, September 6, at Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri. Registration is at 8 a.m. with the walk beginning at 9 a.m. The group says the event will remember those who've lost their lives to suicide, homicide, fire, accident and other traumatic deaths. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first Jason Arkin Memorial Walk will be held Sunday, September 20, Congregation Beth Torah, 6100 W. 127th Street, Overland Park, Kansas. People are invited to gather at 7:30 a.m. with the walk starting at 8:15 a.m. Donations may be made to the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition. For more, click here.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately.
Go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
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