Nampa mom turns loss into new mission to prevent teen suicides

Nampa mom's mission to prevent teen suicide.

NAMPA - It's been almost three months since Strat Sorensen died by suicide, and while his mother, Amanda McKissen, says she has days where she doesn't want to talk about what happened she says by speaking out, she's hoping she can make a difference in someone's life.  

"I was in shock," said McKissen. "I really don't remember probably the first three weeks."

Strat Sorensen was just 15 years old. He was voted class clown, was a Nampa High School football player and a wrestler. 

"He was funny and he was protective of me and his siblings as the oldest," McKissen said. "Good kid."

McKissen says even when she looks back, searching for any hint or red flag, she never saw this coming. 

"Mental illness is multi-faceted," said McKissen. "He probably was struggling before this, we just didn't see it because there were not those outside signs."

Signs like withdrawing from family and friends, or signs of depression. 

"I almost wish there had been signs so that I could have addressed it and seen it," McKissen said.

She says it's a talk that a lot of parents don't want to have.

"Never once did I ever think to talk to Strat about suicide and I wish I had," McKissen said. "That makes me feel really bad that he didn't feel like there was anyone he could talk to."

She says it's uncomfortable and hard, but that conversation has to happen. 

"We need to find a way to tell our kids that if you had a bad day the sun is going to come up tomorrow, it's a new day, you get another chance, it's going to get better, please wait," McKissen said. "I don't want anyone else to have to go through this. It's a living nightmare."

Today, she says she still thinks about what she could have done differently. 

"I would just let him know I love you no matter what, you're going to be okay no matter what, we're going to get through this together," McKissen said. 

We also spoke with Scott Parker with the Nampa School District about how they respond to incidents like this. Parker says they bring their crisis team together, which is composed of administrators and counselors from around the district.

"At that point we come up with a plan about how are we going to support the students who are affected by this as well as their families," Parker said.

Parker says making resources available after the fact isn't enough. Now the district has plans to add a family community resource center at one of its schools.

"It will be strategically placed at one of our schools where there's high need around a lot of issues, whether it's basic needs, housing issues, or mental health issues," said Parker. "The person who will be the coordinator of that, whoever we hire, I look at that person as kind of the facilitator of resources for our families in our communities."

Parker says this center will be implemented next fall.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support, please reach out for help by calling or texting the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 208-398-4357. All calls are confidential and can be anonymous.

 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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