Suicide impacts family, prompts more prevention awareness


Abby Elliott

graphic illustration

Story by Macy Maynard, staff writer

She knows the date her life changed forever.

It was Aug. 16, 2019.

That’s the day her brother died by suicide.

That’s the day Lauren Maynard lost part of herself and became aware of the importance of suicide prevention.

“I was at a place once where if you would have asked me about suicide, I would have probably been like, that’s not going to [affect] me. I’m your four-member family with the white picket fence, [the] American dream,” Maynard said. “And that changed in a matter of two seconds.”

That’s why today, World Suicide Prevention Day, and the month of September, which is Suicide Prevention Month, are close to her heart. 

“A year ago, I didn’t pay any attention to it,” Maynard said. “I didn’t know it was something so serious that it had a whole month dedicated to the prevention of it.”

A little more than a year ago, Cameron Maynard graduated from Texas High and was a few days away from heading to Southern Arkansas University.

As part of the Texas High band, he showed his passion for playing the trumpet. He also loved spreading his faith as a part of his church, Hampton Church of Christ. 

“What Cameron loved more was his faith,” Maynard said. “The fact he had something to believe in, that helped him to help [others], even in his darkest moments. There was a kindness within him that just lit up every room he was in. He really had a way of putting others’ problems first.”

There were many things Maynard loved about her brother Cameron, but what she loved most was his heart of gold.

“Cameron and I used to just cruise around Texarkana and listen to old movie soundtracks and talk about our futures and dreams,” Maynard said. “I loved that, it was encouraging for me, and as a big sister, it made me proud of him.”

Submitted photo: Lauren Maynard poses with her brother Cameron prior to his death. Cameron died from suicide on Aug. 16, 2019, shortly before he was to begin his freshman year of college.

These experiences, soon to become memories, made losing him to suicide a “death like no other.”

“Losing someone to suicide is essentially, a soul-crushing surprise,” Maynard said. “You’re not only grieving an unexpected death, but you have a lot of confusion and loss behind the reasons behind it.”

Not only a particularly painful experience, but a common one, suicide is the third leading cause of death in Texas for ages 15-24, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“The numbers and the prevalence of suicide have grown, especially here in northeast Texas,” School Counselor Dana McAdoo said. “Because it’s not talked about and because we don’t glamorize it, a lot of people are unaware of the numbers. They’re unaware of how many people do take their life.” 

In the last six months of 2019, the Suicide Resource Center reported 68,678 callers to the prevention hotline in Texas. At Texas High, McAdoo said they planned to promote awareness on TigerVision and provide a virtual presentation of a parental suicide prevention workshop.

“We do suicide prevention because if we talk about it, if we face mental health problems, and if we let everybody know as much as we can, maybe they will feel more comfortable reaching out,” McAdoo said. “The biggest thing in our society today is sometimes teens don’t reach out, and they think that they can do it all on their own.” 

So if teens won’t reach out on their own, what can be done? Well, according to Maynard, starting the conversation about suicide can be what changes someone’s life.

“When you have someone who gets to that point in their life where they’re contemplating [suicide], it seems like nothing’s ever going to get better,” Maynard said. “If someone came to me who was contemplating suicide, and was like, ‘I don’t feel like anything’s gonna get better,’ [I would say,] ‘If you commit suicide, you will never find out if it gets better.’”

While suicide may seem like the only answer, Maynard said, “nobody wins.”

I would genuinely and wholeheartedly tell them that I would rather hear their story now from them than hear their story from a family member or a friend in the eulogy at their funeral.

— Lauren Maynard

Cameron’s death changed Maynard’s life. It shook her entire world.

“Losing Cameron taught me a lot,” Maynard said. “It made me a completely different person for better and for worse, not sure which one more though. I think what I learned most is when they say that you don’t know what people are going through, it’s genuine.” 

Everyone has unique battles, and Maynard points out that everyone’s progress shows itself to others differently.

“Still to this day in law school, people see me as the ambitious, go-getting little blonde girl,” Maynard said. “And they have no clue the things that I fight with every day.”

For the last year Maynard has dedicated her time to volunteering for the American Society for Suicide Prevention. She organized a race, the “Be the light 5K,” and raised over $8,000 to donate to AFSP.

It’s made me realize the change that you can make if you want to. You just have to be willing to take care of yourself and help other people who are in a place where they can’t help themselves,” Maynard said. “I want to help people and understand tragic situations like suicide, even if it doesn’t affect us.”

Changes need to be made, with an average of 132 suicides per day, according to AFSP.

“We don’t want to lose any life. Every life is important,” McAdoo said. “Everybody goes through difficult times, and we want to try to prevent it before it gets to a level that someone feels completely hopeless that they have to take their own life. 

Maynard said first, the stigma around suicide needs to change so then, people will be more open to the conversaton of it. 

“We should celebrate each other more, and we should support each other more,” Maynard said. “We should love each other more despite any type of differences.”