The Dragon Suicides
The LOHS senior hosted an impromptu graduation party in May 2008 while his parents were out dining and socializing until nearly 1:00 am. The parents returned to a teenage house party meltdown; students puking, passing out, the furious father of a drunk freshman girl on the phone demanding answers and threatening to call the police.
Early the next morning, one of the good friends of the student that hosted the house party hung himself in the basement of the Lake Orion home. The decedent's estate raised claims of negligence in the failure to supervise the LOHS students and wrongful death. The defendants in the law suit, the homeowners, have been represented by a law firm hired through their homeowners insurance.
The lawsuit was dismissed from the Oakland County Circuit Court; from this summary disposition, the decedent's parents have appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals; oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Tuesday morning in Detroit.
My clients are the parents of the decedent, apparently one of 9 LOHS students or graduates to have killed himself within the last four years. Two of the suicides occurred just last month.
This rash of LOHS-related suicides has led to the initiation of an on-line petition through Facebook sponsored by Lake Orion Reach Out. The Reach Out group also seeks the formation of a suicide prevention class to be taught at the high school.
What is it about LOHS and the surrounding community that could be causing students to take their own lives? Is there any connection between the cases?
One of the many comments to the Oakland Press article linked above suggests that bullying occurs at the school. While there is a correlation between teen-age bullying and suicide, I doubt it can explain this Oakland County phenomena.
Nevertheless, to its credit, the Lake Orion Community Schools is implementing a district-wide bullying prevention program.
Here is a recent editorial on this sad subject from the Lake Orion Review, published following this post.
And here are some resources if you, a family member, or a friend or loved one is at risk for suicide:
Suicide crisis lines