A family shares their story of heartbreak in an effort to help others

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The number of suicides in Erie County has increased over the past few years.

There were 114 deaths by suicide in 2014. That’s a 31 percent increase from 2013.

If you compare those numbers to 2012 data, there’s been a 44 percent increase.

A Williamsville family who recently lost their daughter to suicide is now sharing their story. They hope it helps so another family doesn’t have to go through heartbreak.

“She was just an all-around good hearted, fantastic kid,” John Stockman said.

John’s daughter, Amanda was a sophomore at Williamsville North High School and a star softball player.

Her teammates and friends say she was a silent leader on and off the field.

But on September 23, Amanda passed away unexpectedly.

“Shannon went downstairs and the scream that I heard will forever be burned in my head. When I heard that scream, I knew my daughter was dead,” Stockman said.

Amanda committed suicide.

Her family is still trying to figure out why. They don’t know if it was depression, anxiety or something else. If it was, they say it’s a silent killer.

John Stockman said his message to parents is to listen and observe your children. “We’re all taught to speak and read, but how many of us are ever taught to listen,” he said.

Olivia Retallack, a coordinator with the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Erie County said a change in behavior could signify a loved one is close to the edge.

“Any change in behavior good or bad. If someone has been really happy and now they’re sad. Then that’s something for us to take notice of,” she said.

Here are some additional warning signs: a change in sleep pattern or appetite, displaying overwhelming pain, feelings of hopelessness, or talking about suicide plans.

If someone is having thoughts of suicide, they can dial the Crisis Services Hotline at 716-834-3131. “There are people who care. There are people who can help,” Retallack said.

The Crisis Services Hotline has mental health counselors available around the clock. They can assess the situation and even provide an intervention on the phone. Also, if someone needs to come to your home, there’s an outreach team as well.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

In Amanda’s honor, the Stockman family has created a scholarship fund to help other student athletes. If you would like to donate to it or learn more about, here’s a link: https://www.gofundme.com/4c4wjv3w


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