For Gina and Vanessa, Gone Too Soon

Maybe it is because my daily commute to work takes me through Delaware County, Pa., in close proximity to the train tracks where Vanessa Dorwart and Gina Gentile ended their lives on Thursday, an apparent suicide pact.

Maybe it is because I remember being 16 and feeling like my life was over because of a breakup, that I would never feel whole and healed again.

Maybe it is because I'm a parent and cannot imagine what these girls' families are going through.

Maybe it is because I'm still in a bit of shock that my extended family could very well have also been tragic front page news, as the Dorwart and Gentile families now are. Planning an untimely funeral, as the Dorwart and Gentile families now are.

Maybe it is a combination of all the above.

Whatever the reasons for my internal heartbreak over Gina Gentile and Vanessa Dorwart, it is compounded by all the factors above and that the story of their suicide is dominating headlines here in the Philadelphia region. Out of respect to their families, whom I don't know but for whom my heart breaks, I won't recap the tragic details here. There's plenty of places where one can find them, including in the links of this post.

You'll find no blame here, because while the keyboard critics find it so damn easy to snark (often anonymously) in holier-than-thou fashion with cries of "where were the parents?" (and by all accounts, they were doing all that they could and all the right things) it must be utter hell to be crucified in the press and court of public opinion for one's parenting, every mistake and decision made.

I don't have a huge readership here on this blog, with my 145 subscribers and 73 followers (not like you'd know about the latter, thanks to the Blogger/Google quirks that prevent me from showing off your pretty faces.) I'm not an A-list blogger, and it's a pretty good bet nobody is going to be asking for my autograph at BlogHer.

But what I have seen, in the wee small hours of the morning, are the search terms landing people here, for whatever reason. Moreover, I believe there are times when writing a blog that, like this one, regularly strays into the realm of being a cyber-soapbox, affords one the opportunity to make a difference and serve the common good, in even a small way, from the platform of our keyboard.

So this post is for Gina and Vanessa, two girls gone too soon. And maybe for you too, that anonymous someone - maybe a copycat, maybe a desperate parent. Maybe you're at your keyboard in the middle of the night or in the morning while your parents are at work. Maybe you're sneaking online during your lunch hour, while your boss is in a meeting or out sick. Maybe you're feeling hopeless, in need of answers.

Maybe, somehow, whoever you are, you might serendipitously find this post when you need to find it, and maybe one of the resources below might help.

And selfishly, maybe the next time I drive by a certain set of train tracks where two girls ended their 16 year old lives by stepping in front of an Acela train going nearly 125 miles an hour, I might feel like I did something to help.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

My cousin Joey's Facebook group, Equality project

The Nemours Foundation page About Teen Suicide

American Academy of Pediatrics: Some Things You Should Know About Teen Suicide

Resources provided by The STAR Center (Services for Teens At Risk) which is a comprehensive research, training, and education center founded by the State of Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1986 to address adolescent suicide and depression.

(The above three resources were listed in the 3/1/2010 post on "Check Up" a blog written by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Josh Goldstein.)


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