Mourning Parents Turn Grief Into Action On Teen Suicide

Last November, a bright, athletic, popular 14-year-old girl, the daughter of a former NHL player, took her own life. Nobody had suspected anything was wrong, there was no indication, no hint that Daron Richardson was anything other than happy and well-adjusted. 

And yet, on a cold Wednesday morning last fall, over 5,000 people found themselves gathered in a hockey rink, carrying out the unthinkable task of saying goodbye to her forever.

Today, Daron’s family took their grief and turned it in to action. At a press conference today, Luke Richardson said that from now on, February 8 – Daron’s birthday – will mark the beginning of an annual fundraising drive to support efforts in identifying and supporting suicidal teens.

“At that very tragic time in November, we made the decision to speak publicly about suicide because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of others,”Richardson said, speaking publicly for the first time since Daron’s death. “We are a close family. We spend a lot of time together. We talk about a lot of things; sex, drugs, alcohol, bullying and the Internet. But there was one conversation we never had. Mental health. Suicide. We hope and pray that you have that conversation yourself, or with a friend or family member.”

The Do It For Daron (D.I.F.D.) Campaign will begin with a Purple Pledge Day, where teens will be encouraged to give a financial donation as well as wearing purple on February 8 to show their support. 

The Ottawa Senators will also hold an annual D.I.F.D. Youth Mental Health Awareness Night at their home arena.  Funds raised will be donated to the Royal Ottawa Hospital’s program for early identification and intervention for youth at risk.

With suicide the second leading cause of death in youth, after accidents, this initiative will help identify kids who might be thinking about suicide. The aim is to save those kids, and to prevent any more parents from suffering the same loss as the Richardsons have. 

The Richardson family is to be commended for being brave enough to share their story with the world in the hopes of getting the word out, so that hopefully, another child does not have to do what Daron did.

Related Stories: 

Bullied Indiana Teen Commits Suicide

The Real Mean Girls” 15-Year-Old Commits Suicide After Intense Bullying

Broadway Sings ‘It Gets Better’ to Raise Money for The Trevor Project

 

Photo credit: LionSuit on Flickr

92 comments

Mark Alan Dellavecchia

FYI - Thursday, October 20, 2011 is International SPIRIT DAY - one of the minor holidays on the LGBT Calendar. It is asked that you wear a PURPLE SHIRT as a sign of LGBT support, and in memory of the LGBT Teens who have died because of their orientation.

jane richmond
jane richmond5 years ago

takes tragedy to spur action, unfortunately.

Luke Keagy
Luke Keagy5 years ago

Sad indeed.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman5 years ago

sad and noted

julieanne bowes
julieanne bowes5 years ago

such a loss...good on her parents for fighting to stop this happening

Resta C.
Resta C.5 years ago

I agree with Sharon Beth L's comment.

Petra Luna
Petra Luna5 years ago

Bullying is a form of abuse. Just because it's peer abuse doesn't make it any less. Kids need to learn to respect each other, and abuse does, indeed lead to suicide and death.

Sharon Beth L.
Sharon Beth Long5 years ago

I think that it is also important to remember something that has been known in psychiatry for many years (although the pharmaceutical companies are trying to dispute it). It is generally not the SEVERELY depressed person who commits sucidie. Suicide requires a certain amount of planning and energy. It is frequently when a depressed person is "feeling better" that he/she commits suicide. The moderately depressed person who can often hide his/her depressed feelings is much more likely to commit sucicide than the severely depressed person.
We must discuss this fact in any suicide prevention education program.
Also, a very comprehensive article in the Journal of the American Medical Association which reviewed all the studies showed that the most effective suicide prevention program is to educate medical doctors on how to recognize depression which frequently manifests itself in physical symptoms. A number of years ago someone I know was suffering from severe anxiey/atypical depression. Her regular medical doctor who had known her for ten years did not recognize it. When she went to an urgent care center because she was feeling so "strange" that she could not take it--he recognized it right away and sent her to the psychiatric emergency room.

Sharon Beth L.
Sharon Beth Long5 years ago

With regard to Mrs Shakespeare's question--why all the bullying? I believe a lot of it is psychological projection. Kids project their insecurities about their appearance, sexuality, etc onto others, especially those who are different. In addition there is the mob psychology,. Kids are egged on, everyone must take part in the bullying to justify their own behavior. When I did not participate in the bullying of someone I myself was asked , "Why don't you kick him? Are you his girlfriend or something?" If I did not participate then I would be bullied also.
Whey is this more likely to happen in the West? Actually there is a lot of school bullying in some other Asian countries such as India but to the extent that there is less, I think that part of the reason that there may be because that kids" self esteem may be higher because they are doing chores that are truly necessary for the welfare of the family like farmwork as opposed to make work housework and therefore can feel worthwhile and important from a young age. They do not have to "put others down to make themselves seem big" since they are already making a necessary contribution. Also, there may be more local solidarity. Everyone may take pride in being from the same family group, village, region or tribe.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle5 years ago

Good and brave that the family made the commitment to their girl, to help others, by going public.
So sorry for the family. Suicide is perhaps the most tragic of deaths, with family always wondering and the lost potential of that child, so sorrowful.