A parent's nightmare: Survey suggests more teens consider suicide

SPOKANE, Wash. - New statistics from the Healthy Youth Survey show that one in five Washington State high schools say they've considered suicide in the last year.

The survey is conducted every two years. Results from 2016 indicates that 36 percent of girls consider suicide, with 13 percent actually attempting it. For male students, that's 14% and 7%, respectively.

KXLY spoke with Rose Gabel who lost her daughter, Sabrina, to suicide at age 17.

“I'm a heartbroken mom that's never going to get any better that's never going to go away. this is my reality," Gable said.

Sabrina Gabel was a member of the University High community. 

“She had a great group of friends. They were a pack of six they're called the “Six Mix,” and they were amazing,” her mom said. 

But, Sabrina missed much of her “high school” experience. Severe back issues kept her in a hospital bed, and away from her friends, though Gabel said they frequently came to visit and deliver spirit-lifting tubs of cookie dough.

“Over two years we were back and forth in and out of the hospital. Spending a week to two weeks at a time. Just trying to figure out why this kid was in so much pain,” she said.

Sabrina's pain, and the isolation forced on her, sent her into a depression.
But she was receiving some counseling, and though suicide was on both her parent's and the counselor's radar, Rose said that she had stopped talking about it and things seemed okay. Her teenage daughter, thinking ahead to a family trip to Florida.

“She went downstairs to go to bed. My son went down said goodnight said 'love you, see you tomorrow sis,' And she said, 'I’ll see you tomorrow,'” Gabel said.

But when she went to wake her teenager for school the next day, something was seriously wrong. 

“I went to feel her arm and her arm was so cold” Rose said.

Her daughter had died.

"I'm on the phone to 911, screaming, trying to get somebody there because my daughter is dead and it's just such a shock,” Gabel said.

But, parents know their kids and, deep down, Rose knew. She and her family wouldn't find out, officially,until six weeks after Sabrina had died.

“It was devastating. No parent should have to go through this,” she said.

But the number of parents who do is tragically increasing.

The National Institute for Mental Health lists suicide as the tenth overall leading  cause of death in the country, and the third leading cause for ages 10-14.

“My biggest thing is, you know your kids better than anybody else. But we're the first ones to actually close our eyes to things we don't want to see,” Gabel said.

Gabel says improved mental health awareness and prevention training could help the problem. But, for parents, having that conversation -even if difficult- could save a life.

If she could go back, she knows she would.

" I would give anything to hold my kids again. I would give anything to hear her laugh,” Gabel said. 

If you, your child or someone you know needs help: call 911 or contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

A list of mental health resources here in Spokane can be found here.