WA.) -- It
was the end of an eighth-grade choir field trip and Megan LaPlante and
friend were braiding each other’s hair.
were laughing, just girls being
girls,” said Megan’s mom, Susan LaPlante.
later, the friend took her own
wasn’t until the next morning at
school that Megan and her classmates learned about the suicide.
got a call from Megan about 8:15 in the
morning. It was awful,” Susan
LaPlante said. “She couldn’t speak; just sobbing.”
year later, the loss still feels
fresh, but Megan is working to turn tragedy into something that may
freshman at Monroe High School, Megan
is also Miss Washington Teen America and will compete for the national
title, July 15-16 in San
part of the pageant, each contestant
is required to have an advocacy platform, something that they not only
passionately about, but are also supporting with their time and voice.
losing her friend in 2015, Megan decided her platform would be
Suicide through Hope and Awareness.”
wasn’t an easy choice.
wasn’t sure,” Susan LaPlante
said. “It’s so personal and so difficult. We talked about it a lot. I
‘You need to talk about it for yourself. And, it can help
she’ll be taking the message to
the national stage, Megan’s first opportunity to speak publicly on the
came June 23 at Sno-Isle Libraries’ "Issues That Matter" forum on
teen suicide at Snohomish Library.
will speak at similar forums on July 7th in
Stanwood and July
the Snohomish event,
the public packed the meeting room. Megan was on the panel with two
the issue, Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Director of the Snohomish Health
District, and Rena Fitzgerald, manager of the Care Crisis Chat line at
Volunteers of America Western Washington in Everett.
it was her turn to speak, Megan’s
voice was charged with emotion.
such a big issue, but not a lot of
people know about it,” Megan said later. “People don’t touch on it.
don’t learn about this and kids die. They don’t know, but they should
path to suicide, why some choose it
and others don’t, can be difficult to understand. From Megan’s
important thing to do is just be there for someone who reaches out.
they’ve opened up to you, they are
trusting you and thinking you will do something and possibly stop it,”
said. “Just hang out as much as possible and make them feel loved and
because they are, they really are.
are things that you can do. Say,
‘Come on over,’ or ‘Go to a movie with me.’ And if they say,
alone,’ tell them, ‘No, you’re hurting, I’m staying with you.’”
of Megan’s platform is to work with
the American Foundation for
organization works with local
supporters to sponsor "Out of the Darkness Walks" to raise money for
suicide prevention work.
panelist Fitzgerald and Denise
Bathurst, a Mukilteo School District counselor, are organizing a walk
15 at Legion
Park in Everett.
choosing to speak about teen
suicide wasn’t easy for Megan, the response at the Issues That Matter
convinced her that it was the right choice.
girl came up to me after it was over
to say how much it helped,” Megan said.
LaPlante had a similar experience
with a parent.
father of a boy who died in April
came up and said Megan’s comments were so relevant. It was very
Susan LaPlante said. “That night was amazing.”
for this report was provided
by Sno-Isle Libraries
Issues That Matter – Teen
Issues That Matter forums on teen
suicide are scheduled:
July 7, Stanwood
Resource Center, 9612 271st St. NW, Stanwood
July 13, Rosehill Community Center,
Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo
July 21, Oak Harbor Library, 1000
Regatta Dr., Oak Harbor
events start at 6:30
are open and free to the
public with funding provided by the Sno-Isle Libraries
forums feature panels of experts and community members to
discuss what can
be done about teen suicide.
Island County: Youth and
Health District suicide prevention resources
National Suicide Prevention
Society for the Prevention
of Teen Suicide
Stanwood Camano Community
Suicide in Island County:
Island County Board of Health
The Trevor Project
University of Washington
Volunteers of America Care
Crisis Chat (800-584-3578)
Washington Recovery Help
Line Teen Link
Washington State 2-1-1
Washington State Department
of Health Youth Suicide
Washington State Youth
Suicide Prevention Program
Gale Virtual Reference
Opposing Viewpoints in
ProQuest Family Health