Wow, 2011 has been a devastating year for our community….
Rapid City as a whole was brought to it’s knees with the fatal shooting of two Police Officers this summer but I really think the hardest hit group overall had to be our young people…They’ve lost so many friends this year, my heart goes out to them. And I can’t help but wonder how are they handling it? Really? Teenagers are expert at hiding their feelings, denying that anything is wrong, and refusing to ask for help or even talk about problems. They’re like ostriches that way, they bury their heads in the sand and hope it all just goes away….
Their tragedies began when two 15-year old girls fell though a skylight at one of the Middle Schools. Only one of them survived the fall of 35 feet…Why were they up on the roof of their former school late that night? Because they wanted to be, and kids never think anything bad will happen to them.
Less than a week later a 17-year old boy fell from a cliff at Dakota Point, a spot known to popular with the kids for cliff-jumping. Nick survived in the hospital for 3 days before he succumbed to his injuries. During those days his family and hundred’s of his friends kept vigil at the hospital, waiting for news, praying he would be OK, heartbroken when he lost his battle. When Nick decided to go goofing off at the cliffs with his friends that day I’m certain he never thought his life would be cut so tragically short.
Last month a 13-year old girl died after tripping with her shotgun while dove hunting with her Dad. She had taken hunter safety classes and her Dad was an experienced hunter. What started out as a fun Father/Daughter date ended so horribly wrong. I can’t even begin to fathom what that man must have felt while carrying his daughter back to the truck after she was shot in the face by her own gun, and then the drive to the hospital…and I don’t want to imagine it. Not ever.
There are other stories, equally gut wrenching, like the suicide of a 17-year old boy this week…..but my heart just can’t take re-telling any more of them.
Here’s hoping that 2012 brings an awakening, an awareness to our young people that they are not 10 feet tall and bulletproof. Shit happens, and it happens to everyone….and please, for love of God don’t bottle up your feelings. Talk to someone, anyone…There is no shame in admitting that you’re struggling and need help dealing with all of this, because we all do…