Lethal Impulse

Dustin Ustohal, 17, of Fremont died Oct. 25, 2001.
It might have been his second attempt. His father found a gun with a bullet jammed and suspected then that Dustin tried to shoot himself. His parents don't know what fueled his anger, but his dad recalled that Dustin was upset the night before his death and tried to call his friends. He shot himself about 3 o'clock on a Thursday morning. His parents found him at 6 a.m. because his alarm kept going off. His mother, Rhonda, doesn't know if previous teen suicides played a role. Dustin's was Dodge County's fourth in 11 months. She did write a note in the Fremont High School newspaper, shortly after her son's death, saying suicide is not the answer. Nonetheless, she has had suicidal thoughts of her own: "When you're that close to it, that doesn't scare you anymore."

Chris Sonderegger, 17, of Lincoln died Sept. 21, 2002.
He hanged himself from a tree. It was only a few yards from where he had swerved, missed a pole and rolled his car. His parents wonder whether the car crash caused a head injury, and in his confusion and trauma, he killed himself. Chris tried in 2000 to overdose on pills. He had taken Paxil for depression but stopped a year before his death. He had seemed more stable. He had planned to fix up a car, attend homecoming and pick a college. He had even talked a despondent friend out of a suicide attempt. Not long before his death, though, Chris had told a girl that life might not be worth living. She kept that secret and felt so guilt-stricken that she fainted at Chris' funeral. Late Friday night, in the minutes before his death, he kept calling another friend. But she didn't have her cell phone next to her. Audio of the final message indicates he was driving fast -- the accident investigation put the speed at more than 120 -- and then he said goodbye. "We don't know the context, " said his father. Chris often drove fast. The girl offered to play the tape of the call, but Chris' parents declined. "That's a can I don't want to open up, " his father said. They avoid the intersection of 128th and O Streets.

Kevin Hall, 15, of Omaha died Jan. 7, 2002.
He shot himself with a gun forced out of the family's locked gun cabinet. It happened on the first Monday back from Christmas break. Kevin stayed home, complaining of a migraine. Afterward, officials at Millard South High School opened his locker and found writings about a killing spree at school. His parents learned of the writings -- and the school's subsequent lockdown -- from television news. They were angry about the reaction. It wasn't a plan, it was a fictional story. Kevin wrote down everything, including his frequent fantasies. Besides, Kevin was dead. His parents were especially shocked. They had heard Kevin's anger toward a friend who attempted suicide. The family had discussed suicide before because his grandfather shot himself, though he survived. Kevin left one suicide note, on the top of the stairs, which the police took, and a second note that his parents found later under his mattress. "What the hell is wrong with me?" it said. He had been upset at a girl who didn't like him. After his death, the girl revealed she had known he might be suicidal. She later needed to be hospitalized.


Considering suicide?
Stop reading now. Reach out and ask for help. Talk to a parent, friend, counselor, clergy, or doctor.
Or call the Girls and Boys Town National Hotline, 1-800-448-3000. Or the Hopeline Network, 1-800-784-2433.