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At summit following teen's suicide, youths ask adults to listen

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    Elyria Teens Achieve Success program director Stacie Starr, center, hugs Loretta Jones, of Elyria, and Steve Bush, from the Lorain County group Men of Color Mentorship Program on Saturday after the Time for Healing Youth Summit at Greater Victory Christian Ministries in Lorain.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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LORAIN — Youths in Lorain hope the adults in their lives will listen to their needs, following a Youth Summit on Saturday afternoon at Greater Victory Christian Ministries.

“A Time for Healing” invited friends of Xaviayr Davis, 18, to share their own stories and struggles, following the teen’s suicide last week.

Davis, a recent Lorain High graduate, was reported missing by his mother June 10. He was found dead in a vehicle on West 22nd Street about a week later. Davis had struggled with depression, according to his friends, and had texted Jazmire Judson, 17, shortly before he went missing.

“I knew something was wrong, but it didn’t deliver,” she told those gathered in the church Saturday.

She said she and Davis would often talk about what they were struggling with mentally, urging each other to do better.

“We both didn’t practice what we preached, I guess,” she said.

Jazmire and her father, Andre Judson, organized Saturday’s panel, which featured resources for teens and young adults struggling with depression and other mental health issues, as well as connections to mentoring services for young African American and Latino men in the area. To illustrate the importance of those services, Jazmire, Makalia Jones, 19, and David Santos, 17, all told their stories of depression and mental health issues and the impact Davis’ death had on them.

Jazmire said she was getting better before Davis went missing, but his death set her back. She said she got pregnant when she was 15, had her daughter, Lamia Santos, when she was 16 and has been a single mother since then. Crying several times a day, and with her grades slipping, she said she felt like she would take one step forward and 10 steps back before she stepped back and looked at the bigger picture — and urged others struggling to do the same.

“What is it that’s going to matter in five years?” she said. “Are these people at school going to matter? And I started to realize that the people that are talking are the people that are just trying to look in your life. So you have to think about them looking at you but not letting them get to you because you’re the one who’s going to be successful in the end when they’re still just watching from the sidelines.”

David Santos, Lamia’s father, said Davis’ death really took a toll on him and that he has visited the young man’s grave every day since the funeral to talk to him. He said he has been going through things people didn’t know about for the past two years and has been seeing a counselor.

“People have got to realize they’re not alone,” he said. “Everybody’s here for everybody.”

Jones said she has struggled with depression and anxiety, having attempted suicide three times. She said now is a time for the community to heal, and that it was important for her and the others on Saturday’s panel to get up and tell their stories — but it was even more important for the adults in the community to listen to them.

“I think we don’t know what we need so we act out, we do things and there’s drugs that help us cope, there’s alcohol that help us cope and if I can’t talk to you and I can’t talk to the next person, maybe this blunt will make my pain go away,” she said. “Maybe this bottle, this shot, this party, the sex will heal me. But you guys never tell us that those things only fill voids, they don’t make us whole. So we continue to do it and we overdose and we just numb our pain not knowing who we can turn to, where we can run to.

She added, “You all hear us today, but after today you all won’t hear us.”

Andre Judson said organizers would like to hold another summit in the coming weeks, possibly at Lorain County Community College.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers a 24/7 crisis hotline at (800) 273-8255 and an online chat is available. Locally, resources are available through organizations like the Nord Center, The LCADA Way, and mentoring groups like Ambassador Brothers and Men of Color Mentoring.

Contact Carissa Woytach at 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.


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