Local News

April 3, 2013

Suicide survivors share strength, pain


While she didn’t feel anger directly toward Justin at first, it came later on because she saw how negatively it affected some of his friends.

Three dropped out of college, and two ended up in jail, she said.

Gillen said that, after a few years, she began coping by masking her hurt and putting on a happy face, which she said is exactly what Justin had done. 

A teacher and counselor, LePage said it was hard for her to go back to work after Michael’s death, because she felt as if other parents would not trust her to care for their kids, considering what had happened to her son. 

She was gratefully surprised when she received a warm welcome back.

“The world really can be a kind and gentle place,” she said.


Murchison, also on the panel, said that Justin had told him over AIM messenger that he was going to kill himself, but they had talked through it together.

“He showed his soul to me, and we were brothers from there on,” he said.

He also believes Justin was suffering from a disorder that proved fatal.

“People don’t kill themselves because their life sucks,” he said. “They kill themselves because there’s an anatomical imbalance … it wasn’t his life — it was his brain.”


Marianne Cox, a clinical social worker at National Alliance on Mental Illness: Champlain Valley in Plattsburgh, said in a separate interview that it is vital to seek help if someone confides he or she is suicidal.

“We always tell people, especially the young people, this is not a secret you can keep,” she said, “because the aftermath of living with someone’s death is too horrible.

“You can’t take that responsibility of evaluating the seriousness of the situation — you need someone trained in this, and you’ve got to tell an adult, a teacher, parent, somebody ...”

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