PLANO — More than 100 parents and students met in the Plano East High School auditorium Wednesday to talk through the very difficult topic of suicide.
Two 17-year-old students — Ritu Sachdeva and Kate Kuizon — committed suicide within hours of one another on January 30, according to Murphy police.
"We have a grieving student community searching for answers... somewhat disoriented," said Plano East Principal George King.
Wednesday night's grief forum was about an out-in-the open talk about the subject... a venue to ask, understand, and to realize that some questions may never have answers.
"Talk to each other. Communication is so important," said Vanita Halliburton of the Grant Halliburton foundation. "Ask for help if you need it."
David and Norma Walker of Garland lost their 15-year-old daughter Sadie to suicide. It's been 13 months of grief for the family. They know exactly what the two Murphy families are going through, and also what the community is feeling.
"Right now I guarantee there are kids that are scared and parents that are scared," David Walker said.
A good support system is how the Walkers got through their personal tragedy. That, they said, is a necessity, because forgetting is not healthy and is not an option. They have relied heavily on their church and thier faith to help cope.
"They will cry and fall on the floor and blame God and blame the world, but that will pass... it will pass," Norma Walker said.
The family has invested time and energy in awareness, starting with the Sadie Walker Foundation. They've also promoted tools like My Mobile Watchdog, which is a smartphone app that helps parents monitor thier children's mobile activity.
"When I saw the photographs of these two young women, I saw her... I saw her smile," Norma Walker said.
Reporters were not admitted to the grief forum, but parents told WFAA the panel discussed recognizing grief and aknowledging it.
"Be aware of feelings... be aware of what someone is going through, and ask questions," said Deepa Arun, a parent.
It was more than just a 90-minute lecture; it is the beginning of healing for some, and the start of a conversation we may all need to have about suicide.