On Jan. 22, a local 11-year-old, RayLynne hung herself. It's been the third such suicide by hanging in the Verde Valley since my last post. The first was an 8-year-old boy in Cottonwood; then a 15-year-old boy, the son of Camp Verde's Town Manager; and now RayLynne. At the newspaper, we've debated endlessly about if and how to cover these events. The consenus is that our job as journalists in to inform our community about the facts. It's not easy. With RayLynne, rumors started flying about her death; I heard from the parent of a child at her school that she had shot herself - another that it was a drug overdose. Neither was the case and to prevent gossip and serve our community, we have to be both accurate and respectful.
There is something seriously wrong in the Verde Valley. Why are these kids killing themselves and why by hanging?
On friday, RayLynne's mother had a meeting with me. The girl's grandmother had faxed a letter to the editor thanking local organizations and individuals for support and donations to the girl's funeral expenses. The mother wanted to add some names. No big deal, I thought.
She came in Friday and she was tweaking at the meeting. Shows up on meth at my newsroom after what her daughter had done. I helped her out as much as I could and made the changes she requested, but I wanted to punch her. This was the reason RayLynne felt helpless and there was nothing I could do for her now, but shit Christ woman, you'd think your daughter's suicide would be cause to get clean.
I left work immediately after. I just wanted to break something. I came home, threw stones, whacked on a stump with a 2x4 and cried.