Father of suicide victim hopes others learn from his grief

Charlie Skiles committed suicide last week.
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A silent epidemic is claiming the lives of too many young people.

Nationwide, suicide is the third leading cause of death among middle, high school and college-aged kids.

More than a statistic, it's a family's personal tragedy.

Will Skiles knew his teenage son, Charlie, was struggling, but didn't realize how much. Friends apparently knew but didn't tell anyone. The family says there is a lesson here for everyone.

From all the family photos, Charlie Skiles looks like a happy kid, a Batman fanatic, a typical teenager. But his troubles were unknown to friends, relatives, and even his father.

"Charlie was under so much weight. Yeah, there were signs, but nobody thought he would buckle under that weight, that's what happened," Will said.

Charlie took his own life.

"What angers me is, he didn't let me...is, he didn't come to me for help. He didn't let me know how serious he was about hurting himself," Will said.

Friday, everyone thought Charlie went to school. No one suspected anything was wrong until he didn't come home. Early that night, a search for the 15-year-old high school sophomore ended tragically.

Suicide is a silent epidemic among young people. Sixteen percent of people ages 10-24 say they've seriously considered suicide. Eight percent attempted to take their own life.

"I have to do something. Everything I can do to prevent this tragedy from happening to other parents and families," Will said.

Skiles knew his son had a history of serious depression, but didn't realize the medications and treatments weren't working. Searching Charlie's Twitter and Facebook accounts, he's found several alarming friends.

"'I told you not to do this. You are the best Batman I've ever met,' There is a clue, 'I told you not to do this.' He knew something," Will said.

But apparently, the friend told no one.

"Even if you think a kid is joking around about taking his life or hurting themselves, there is something on the inside fueling that emotion," Will said.

A family is holding onto precious memories, hoping their tragedy can spare other families their grief.

"Even I want his legacy to be, people get to these kids and take the weight off of them so they won't buckle under it like Charlie did," Will said.

Last year, the local Crisis and Suicide Intervention line answered 9,500 calls. Nineteen percent of those calls came from people under the age of 25.

Warning signs can be hard to spot. When someone mentions suicide, friends should take them seriously and look for help.

Suicide prevention links

Child and Adolescent Suicide

Depression in Teens

Finding Inpatient or Residential Treatment 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The Jason Foundation