Lethal Impulse

Nastasha Meyer, 14, of Fremont shot herself Nov. 6, 2000.
She had battled depression, an illness that runs in the family but also resulted from her being molested at age 10. A couple of months earlier, Nastasha had tried to kill herself by drinking a toxic solvent. Her parents, Roger and Dubie Meyer, said doctors seemed preoccupied with medication more than getting her to open up about her problems. One drug had been working, but it was taken off the market. Dubie Meyer left strict instructions with the school not to let Nastasha leave, because she feared what Nastasha would do. But the girl left school one Monday, and nobody noticed until after a class was over. By then it was too late. She found the family's gun in a bedroom closet and the bullets atop a kitchen cabinet. A week earlier, Dubie Meyer told her husband she hated guns. They discussed getting that gun out of the house.

Ryan James, 19, of Beatrice shot himself Aug. 28, 1999.
He had chafed from teasing he endured through high school and after graduation. He was a target for pranks, the most severe culminating with a deer head dangling from a rope in the family's back yard. Ryan also had lost two major influences in his life: his grandfather and a boss who had played a fatherly role. The night he died, he fought with the girlfriend who was moving with him to a new apartment. But his thoughts of suicide seemed more planned. A week earlier, he told his sister that soon his family wouldn't have to worry about him. The Saturday night of his death, he gave away his compact discs. He talked with friends by phone; his last call was to his girlfriend. Ryan had his gun locked up, but he was the only one with the key. His parents didn't want a gun in the house but said OK if Ryan completed training.

Thomas Carlson, 13, of Omaha shot himself Dec. 3, 2003.
He used a family-owned handgun found in a closet. His mother, Laura Carlson, didn't see any signs of depression or immediate reasons for taking his life. He failed a science test that Wednesday, but it wasn't the first bad mark at school, and a lot of kids failed the test. He was going to have his first date. His suicide note had a calm and reasoned tone, making it all the more troubling to his parents. "It's time for me to go home, " he wrote. "My work here is done." Thomas' father, David Carlson, believes his son was depressed but concealed it. A psychiatrist told Laura Carlson that a spontaneous suicide can happen, and it can be like a runaway train for the child.

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