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Spring Hill parents take steps to prevent teen suicide

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SPRING HILL, Kan. -- Two teen suicides in less than a year have parents taking action.

They're banding together to give teenagers more socializing options and opportunities to expand friendships.

A pizza parlor is one of the few places in Spring Hill where people get together.

Concerned parents say teenagers in particular need more socializing options to prevent them from feeling isolated or alone.

"I think having an open non-judgmental, in the great mind frame of kids, place where they can not be judged for how they feel or if they will get in trouble if they say this or do that," said Crystal Jackson, mother of one of the suicide victims. "I think just having a very open place where they can call go and not be judged is very important."

Less than six months ago, Taishaughn Mathews, 14, took his own life. He was the second of two 14-year-olds in Spring Hill to end his own life.

And that was two too many for some parents, who have since formed Spring Hill Inspiration for Teens, or SHIFT, a group that stages monthly free events where kids in the small town can get out, establish new friendships and just be themselves.

"I believe that being able to go someplace and hang with your friends or just to have a place where you can be yourself and be comfortable, I think that makes a world of difference," said Alexa O'Malley, 17, "because that gives you some place to go besides thinking, 'oh I had a really bad day. '"

The city's recreation system has organized activities for kids, but only up to sixth grade. After that teens who are not part of high school sports or clubs can feel left out.

SHIFT's first event, a dance, attracted more than 150 teens from around town, proving to some that the need is there.

The parent group eventually would like to see Spring Hill build a community center. In the meantime, SHIFT is working to establish a teen talk line, so kids have another place to turn if they don't want to share their stresses with a parent or teacher.

FOX 4's You Matter page offers resources for those struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts.