Raising awareness on suicide prevention and mental health are issues to which Boys’ Latin is firmly committed. Each year during National Suicide Prevention Month the School coordinates discussions and activities that focus on these difficult topics.
This year upper school counselor, Megan Kenney, brought back as guest speaker Luke Edwards ‘17, who addressed the students and faculty with his powerful personal message on how suicide has impacted his life in the tragic loss of his father.
Sharing the speech he first gave five years ago as a senior at Boys’ Latin he said, “My story begins like any other.” Raised in a middle class family with a father, mother and sister, he described his life as normal until his parents divorced when he was seven years old. His father moved out of the family home, and the next two years were spent moving from one home to another on weekends. Then his father remarried. “Why did things keep changing?” the nine year old Luke asked.
Luke had come to Boys’ Latin as a middle schooler, a move he viewed as a new opportunity to restart. His hope for normalcy was short lived, however; his sister went into a treatment center, causing him to question yet again. “Why is this happening to me?”
On the second day of Luke’s freshman year, his mother and aunt delivered the news “that stole my innocence and would dramatically alter the course of my life.” His father tragically died by suicide. Luke described his pain as unimaginable and his feelings as robbed, angry and guilty. “What if I could have said or done something to prevent this?”
What followed was years of counseling and what he calls “all consuming and suffocating” depression. Struggling emotionally and socially, he became less confident and subconsciously realized that suicide was an option for him. “If my dad … could quit on his family, friends and life, why couldn’t I?”
Luke ultimately realized that he had a great support system in his mother and sister - “my rocks” - as well as his Boys’ Latin friends and teachers. “Most importantly, I realized my own resilience and strength.”, he says.
Today Luke is a passionate advocate for mental health. He stressed to his audience the importance of asking for help. “There is no weakness in asking for help.” He went on to say that we have a choice in how we present ourselves and who we want to be. “I shared my story today…to attempt to show that it is not what we’ve been through or where we’ve been, but what we do that defines us.”