Teen suicide, a huge issue in Arizona: One mother shares her loss

Posted on September 18, 2011 in Articles

A Valley mother is sharing her story of loss during Teen Suicide Prevention Week.

A shocking statistic is that more than 10,000 teenagers in our state will attempt suicide this year. It’s a fact that puts us 7th in the nation for suicide among our youth.

Kimberly Tocco of Scottsdale knows the pain of that reality firsthand.

“When I close my eyes, I see a handsome ‘man’ child that always had a smile on face and a sparkle of humor in his eyes,” she said. “I say ‘man’ child because at thirteen, he towered over most at 6-feet-1-inch and a quarter. He was that kid who would make everyone laugh, even the ones having a bad day or the teacher who was trying to correct him for making everyone laugh.”

Last spring, her son Jason took his life. It was an ordinary school day, but something that morning just snapped.

“That day he was very angry, very irritable, almost irrational,” Tocco said. “When his father and I realized he just wasn’t going to drop the argument over eating breakfast, we took away privileges. First XBOX, then iPad. I sent him to his room. But, he didn’t go to his room, he went to my room, took out a gun that he did not know was loaded and pulled the trigger. Whether it was to get attention, scare us as parents so that we would give him back privileges or just because he just wanted to handle the weapon, the end result was his death and many unanswered questions.”

So, why do teens snap? What makes them take their own lives in an instant? In Jason’s case, Tocco wonders if it wasn’t the effect of violent video games. Did he really understand you can’t shoot yourself and jump back up and keep going? Was he at a point of desperation they just didn’t see coming? Experts say while sometimes there are no signs, most often there are.


  • Are they feeling depressed or anxious?
  • Are they neglecting school work, their friends, their hygiene?
  • Is their behavior erratic?

Why do so many teens in our state attempt suicide? Some blame easy access to guns in Arizona, but there are many underlying factors for teens today. Bullying, depression, sexual orientation, and relationship issues are just a few. The common factor: an inability to process overwhelming pain or stress.

If your child has any of these issues or the signs above, the most important thing you can do is talk with them. If you can’t get them to open up to you, you can reach out for help. Teen Lifeline in the Valley is a 24 hour a day crisis hotline for teens. Their peers are on the other end of the phone to just listen.

Read the rest of the article at abc15.com

La Frontera Arizona