There's only monumental, indescribable, numbing, make-you-want-to-die pain.
When you Google the header "Wisconsin Teen Suicide Hotline" you get something like 681,000 hits in less than half-a-second.
Everyone can say what sounds like the right things to the family and the friends of Nicolet student-athlete Tyler Webb: Be strong, keep people close, look out for one another, reach out, make an effort, talk to one another.
But it doesn't relieve the pain, dry the tears or answer any questions as to the why this handsome, strong, involved young man, who was a multisport athlete for the Knights (football, baseball and track), who had shown up to football practice regularly and who was a projected starter for the rebuilding Nicolet squad at defensive back and possibly wide receiver, took his own life 30 minutes before practice on Aug. 15.
Details of the death are quite rightly being reserved out of respect for the family, but football coach Dave Quam said it did not happen on school property. Exact details of services were not known as of Tuesday, but they are tentatively set for Friday.
School responds immediately
"The kids were in the locker room getting ready (for practice) when I found out," Quam said. "Our crisis team went into action immediately. Guidance counselors, school psychologists. ...It was a great response by the school. Everyone dropped everything and got things in place immediately.
"...But there were no clues. This is always such a shock. The kid did not seem down, he seemed to have a lot of friends. Maybe it could have been this or that.
"I just don't know."
Rarely does anyone ever know in a situation like this.
Practice was canceled immediately, as was the scrimmage scheduled for last Saturday.
"We had a quick meeting (with the team) on Thursday (Aug. 15) and I kept the normal practice time on Friday just so the kids could get together," Quam said. "We hung out and talked. There were a bag of balls and some of the guys played catch. The library was open and the kids could walk in and talk to counselors there."
An impromptu touch football game was even held.
"This really hits close to home," said veteran Nicolet Athletic Director Kirk Kyychowiak. "Just really hard, and really difficult. You never get any answers in a situation like this....The difficulty you can't imagine. I think Dave (Quam) did a wonderful job handling it the best that he could. You feel very blessed having someone like him in charge (of the team) when a tragedy like this hits.
"...But there were just no indicators."
Krychowiak said a major point of emphasis of all the staff dealing with the students right now is not to glorify the situation. Keep it what it is, a tragedy that someone who was either so unhappy, or who had a mental illness felt it was necessary to do the one thing they didn't need to do, the last thing they should ever do.
Leaves a gaping hole
An act so final that it stripped people who loved him unconditionally of his laugh, his smile, his tears, his hugs, his silliness and his grace with no explanation, leaving a gaping hole in their lives.
In light of that, the last thing anyone wants right now is a copy-cat.
"Kids are so impressionable," Krychowiak said. "We don't want other kids to think something like this is ever OK."
New Principal Greg Kabara just went on duty on July 12. He is terribly saddened by the situation, but was impressed by the work of his staff in the aftermath.
"Given that it was summertime," he said, "our professional experts came out in force and served our community and students well in a time of need."
What you can do
As noted, people can help by doing simple things.
Observing if friends and family are sad and depressed most of the time, or if they are anxious, agitated or unable to sleep. If they're neglecting personal welfare, have a deteriorating personal appearance, are withdrawing from friends and family, and have been noticeably losing interest in hobbies, school, work or other things they used to care about.
Feeling desperate or trapped, excessive guilt or shame or feeling your life is a failure — all of these are symptoms, too.
People can also help by making others in need aware of all the help that is out there. Here are a few of the most notable agencies and help lines:
The 24-hour, seven day-a-week Milwaukee County Crisis Line is (414) 257-7222 or (414) 257-6300 TDD. In Ozaukee County, the teen line is (262) 377-7786 (in Northern Ozaukee County it is (800) 924-7786). Another help line in Ozaukee County is (262) 377-2673. In Waukesha County help can be had at 211 or (262) 547-3388.
Youth-specific national hotlines include the National Hope Network (800) 784-2433; the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255; CrisisChat.org; the Youth America Hotline (877) 968-8454; and the Trevor Project for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth (866) 488-7386.
And to the other would-be Tylers out there, there are always friends, there is always family. They may not understand what you are going through, but they are there. They are trying, you just have to reach out to them, just keep the door open a crack.
Because life is a rich, complicated, messy, glorious, sometimes painful, sometimes ecstatic experience for all of us and everyone should be able to see it through to its natural conclusion.
The Webb Family has set up a Baylor Webb Family Memorial Trust in Tyler's honor. People can donate to it any Chase Bank. A memorial scholarship will be set up at a later date.
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