Two teenage suicides rock Tahoma High School community

MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. -- One father hopes telling his son’s story will impact others and help them reconsider taking their own life.

In a period of less than two weeks, the Tahoma High School community felt the impact of two deaths from suicide.

One of those deaths was recent graduate Kione Gill.

“That kid was always happy since he was 3-years-old. You could always see him smiling and having fun,” said Nelson Gill, the boy's father.

Gill says he had so many reasons to be proud of his son. Kione was a multiple state champion in wrestling. His father says his talents and hard work with the sport earned him a full scholarship to college.

Earlier this month, Gill says his son came home from college for the last time.

“He was doing his own thing. I really regret it. I didn’t talk to him,” said Gill.

Gill says he found his 18-year-old son dead.

“What was so bad to take your own life? I think that’s something I’m going to have to live with because I don’t know why he did it,” said Gill.

These are questions that every year thousands of people ask. The Nation Institute of Mental Health reports that 44,965 people died from suicide in the United States in 2016.

After Kione died, Tahoma High School student Kylee Snyder took her life.

"I see more despair I see less hope. I see more fear.  A lot of sadness, and a lot of people who are usually more resilient just not knowing what to do, and feeling more trapped and scared,” said Sarah Landrum, a licensed mental health counselor.

She says at least once a week she talks with people thinking about killing themselves. Landrum says people who suffer from suicidal thought usually don’t want to die.

“It’s because they’re struggling with a really horrible pain or some fear and they’re starting to think it’s never going to change and they don’t know how to escape,” she said.

Landrum says possible suicidal signs look like depression in a lot of cases: isolations, or avoidance of friends and family.

She says other signs that are not as obvious are when people struggling with depression suddenly seem to be doing much better. She also says people wrapping up loose ends with finances, or giving away valued possessions is also another sign.

Landrum says it’s our responsibility to start talking more openly about this issue.

Gill says that is why he is sharing his son’s story. He wants to build awareness and hopefully prevent someone else from going through what his family is.

“Sometimes you don’t know what a moment is until it becomes a memory. So, all the moments I have with my son now are just memories,” he said.