Lethal Impulse

Blake Schinkel, 15, of Sutton died Dec. 7, 1999.
He had been playing a game online with a friend on Friday night when he sent a strange text message: I've got something more important to do. That didn't sound like Blake, so the friend called another of Blake's buddies, and they drove to his mother's house to check on him. They already had been worried. Blake's mom and stepdad had separated badly, and he told his friends that the back and forth wore on him. His stepdad was strict, his mother carefree. Blake had been cutting on his arms. He took medication for depression. The friends found Blake had hanged himself in a closet. His melancholy was discovered on his computer, where he wrote poetry and kept his diary. His stepdad, Mike Svoboda, said the family tension weighed on Blake. He also struggled to fit in in a small town. Sutton, a town of 1, 500 residents, is on U.S. Highway 6 about 30 miles east of Hastings. "You have a lot less outlet for expression, " his stepdad said. "Blake was a very complex, deep individual. Trust me, we're not living in Greenwich Village."

Chelsea Bonsell, 16, of Omaha died Aug. 10, 2002.
Her parents were outside on Saturday evening, enjoying the last of the summer fireworks. The booms masked the sound of a gunshot. Chelsea had been found cutting herself at age 14 and was being treated for depression with Prozac. The parents had argued with her the night before, but Chelsea seemed excited about the new school year. She had just bought all new clothes. Before going outside, her parents saw her. She seemed happy, writing a note. Later they realized it had been her suicide note. Chelsea had likely hidden the gun for some time, because it had been missing from the gun cabinet. All guns in the house are now locked away and equipped with trigger locks.

Scott Robinson, 12, of Sidney died Feb. 3, 2003.
He had to go to the school principal's office that Monday after being caught in class with fake photocopies of passes that award extra privileges to students. The passes had been given to students for Christmas. Scott asked many times to call his mom but was denied. Several possible punishments loomed. His sixth-grade class happened to be discussing suicide prevention. After school, a cousin took him home and left him there for the hour or so before his mother could arrive. Scott called his mom and told her he loved her. He found a gun in a cabinet upstairs, shells in the garage. He scribbled on a sticky note and shot himself. Scott was a good student, despite being dyslexic, and was on a traveling basketball team. His family saw no signs of depression. The parents blame the school for what they viewed as carelessly excessive discipline. They tried to get the principal fired, but the superintendent and school board rejected their pleas.

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