Sometimes it takes a tragedy to see how much people care. For the Hobbs High School community, warm support came to the famous Ralph Tasker Arena this month after the death of an honors student, athlete and student leader.
“Sending you love,” was one of the messages written on a window of a school activity bus from Portales. “Be brave. Stay strong. You are loved.” Other buses adorned with well-wishes came from Artesia, Carlsbad, Eunice, Grady, Fort Sumner and Lovington.
The death of the 17-year-old Hobbs High School junior follows the April suicide of 11-year-old Landon Fuller of Hobbs. “I’m going mad staying at home all the time, and not being able to go to school and play outside with my friends,” Landon wrote in a journal after being out of school for weeks. His mother, Katrina Fuller, told the Journal the school closures and stay-at-home orders were “the end of his world.”
The loss of a young person is always cause for soul-searching, particularly during a pandemic that has resulted in extended isolation and stress. National experts have issued warnings about the increased potential for suicides, and state investigators have linked some recent suicides with depression worsened by social isolation or job losses.
The Hobbs junior, who died Dec. 7, spoke at an Oct. 12 rally at his high school, where students and parents urged the governor to allow them to return to school and play sports. “I was gaining weight and working hard in the weight room, trying to do the best I can, and it all just got taken away from us,” he said, according to an Oct. 14 article in the Hobbs News-Sun.
Suicide this year has been the second-leading cause of death in New Mexico for those 10 to 34 years old. Katrina Fuller calls them “related shadow deaths of the virus.”
Hope is rising with the approval of coronavirus vaccines, and help is out there at such places as the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK and the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line at 1-855-662-7474. Those who feel alone can take comfort they are by no means alone. Help is out there, and friends, family and neighbors really do care.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.