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String of teen suicides shocks ‘Norman Rockwell-esque’ town

A school district in a tiny Michigan town is reeling from three back-to-back suicides of teen students.

According to the New York Post, 16-year-old DeAnte Blane took his own life in June. In September, Kayden Stone took his own life, the day before he was meant to start high school. And the community is now mourning a third death: Shealynn Pobuda took her own life on February 3.

“You don’t know how much you love your kid — you think you do, but you don’t — until you don’t have them anymore,” Kayden Stone’s father Bill told the Record-Eagle.

According to the newspaper, Kingsley — described to the Washington Post as a “Norman Rockwell-esque, all-American small town” — has a population of less than 1,700 people; many who attended Pobuda’s memorial service this month had grieved together for Blane and Stone last year.

“It’s close to a breaking point,” Lauri Bach, a teacher at Kingsley Middle School, told the Record-Eagle. “You can handle one, and it’s horrible. But you have friends, you have support. Then another — slaps you in the face. But you continue to have your friends and your support. Then another one. I mean, you can only take so much before it breaks you.”

School psychologist Marv Nordeen said he believes the rash of suicides are reflective of an epidemic happening all over the United States. The Record-Eagle cited data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that teen and re-teen suicide rates had gone up 70 percent between 2006 and 2016.

“Even though it feels like it’s Kingsley right now, this is happening and has happened in other places,” Nordeen said. “It’s just that in this moment, it’s happening in Kingsley.”

According to the report, the suicide victims in Kingsley may not have demonstrated any strong warning signs before their deaths.

“If there is a parent out there who thinks they’re exempt from this, they’re naive and maybe a little ignorant — because it could be their kid tomorrow,” Bill Stone told the Record-Eagle. “My kid was one of the most unlikely candidates you could ever think of, yet here I am.”