'The things that are said to these kids are mean'

'The things that are said to these kids are mean'

PORTLAND, Ore. - Teen suicide - it's something KATU News has dedicated a lot of time to this year as it's become more of an epidemic.

We're focusing on it again because a Vancouver mom, whose daughter just tried to kill herself, contacted us with a warning for other parents.

The last thing we want to do is glorify a 13-year-old girl's suicide attempt, but this mom wants other parents to be warned. And the young girl admits she made the wrong choice.

If you thought being 13 was hard when you were growing up, consider what teenagers face these days. They have around-the-clock connectivity to classmates - a 24-hour potential for friction to flourish.

"It's cyber bullying," Prahba Akers said. "The things that are said to these kids are mean."

It wasn't until Akers was at the hospital, after her daughter tried to kill herself, that she discovered messages between her daughter and a classmate that discussed a suicide pact.

"What goes through their mind at the age of 13? When I read these messages, it scared me. And my concern is we need to stop this," she said.

Akers said she has appealed to her daughter's principal, and to police, to discuss the role the classmate played in this, but claims she is not getting the help she needs.

"We always have challenges when it comes to things that happen outside the normal school day," said Scott Deutsch with the Evergreen School District.

Deutsch said he can't talk about the Akers' case, but he did say that technology gives kids new weapons to use against each other.

"Not only does it happen at school, but it happens outside of school," he said. "And it happens in very secretive ways that are really hard for adults to be able to see."

"You know, a lot of parents can look at the wall on Facebook and see what's been said, but then there are these messages that they can't get to unless they have their children's password. Had I not seen these messages, I would not have known what really happened to my daughter."

You might notice that we did not divulge details about how Akers' daughter tried to commit suicide - that's not an oversight, it's intentional. Youth suicide experts we have consulted with to prepare reports on suicide say doing that can be harmful.


KATU Investigator Anna Canzano began covering this topic when a cluster of teen suicides emerged in Clark County. Follow this link to watch her previous reports and get suicide prevention resources for teens, parents and teachers.