“After Ellie’s death, we were blown away of the amount of suicides in our community … youth suicides.” – Sherry Leikin, of Severna Park, who lost her daughter, Ellie (age 16) to suicide in 2015.
“We certainly had no idea that there were this vast … rash of suicides over the last ten years … we live in Severna Park, we had been there the whole time and I think maybe we had heard about one of them, so it’s still being hidden and I think that’s, you know, part of the problem.” – Larry Leikin, of Severna Park, who lost his daughter, Ellie (age 16), to suicide in 2015
Two weeks ago when I shared the first interview I had done in what has now become a series on WNAV about suicide prevention, I had only just learned of the study Larry and Sherry Leikin had told me they were part of – that they had been interviewed for. I shared what I knew then about the study, authored by Dr. Anna Mueller and Dr. Seth Abrutyn. The interview aired on WNAV, it was posted on WNAV’s YouTube channel and I took the added step of posting an article on this site. The study was done about a community with a “serious adolescent suicide problem.” Because of confidentially agreements, that community was referred to as “Poplar Grove” in the study. “Poplar Grove” is a pseudonym. In other words, the place where the study was conducted is a very real community with a very real problem.
Not only was I told by Larry and Sherry Leikin they had been interviewed for this study, I was subsequently informed by Nancy Lincoln, associate pastor at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church and psychotherapist at Woods Counseling and Care Center in Severna Park, “Anna Mueller came here two years ago because of the work she’s been doing with adolescents. “She came and she spoke to the church about the importance of a community’s involvement in fostering healthy adolescent development.”
I reached out to Dr. Mueller for an interview because she’s returning to Severna Park to speak on February 24. She declined my request for an interview and confirmed that due to confidentiality agreements, neither she, nor Dr. Abrutyn, would disclose the location of “Poplar Grove.” I reached out to Anne Arundel County Public Schools – I questioning if the schools were aware of the study and asked if additional resources were added in specific schools, such as Severna Park High School. I reached out by phone and by email – I’ve received no response as of yet.
According to an Anne Arundel County Youth Suicide Assessment study, which looked at years 2008 to 2012, “Suicide attempt rates were highest in Glen Burnie (East), Crownsville and the Jessup area compared to other ZIP Code areas. Suicide attempt rates in Arnold, Brooklyn/Brooklyn Park, Edgewater, Glen Burnie (West), Pasadena and Severna Park were higher than County’s average suicide attempt rate.”
Please listen to this week’s interview below and share this with others you think might benefit. I speak to Nancy Lincoln, associate pastor at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church/psychotherapist at Woods Counseling and Care Center/member of the Youth Suicide Action Team and Alli Holstrom of the Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children, Youth and Families/member of the the Youth Suicide Action Team. Both women are part of a new, collaborative community group called Parenting for a Different World.
Anyone that has kids or works with them is encouraged to attend the event being held in Severna Park on Friday, February 24. It’s free and here’s more information – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/parenting-for-a-different-world-a-call-to-action-tickets-31489958313
The series on suicide awareness on WNAV will continue in the coming weeks.