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West Ranch students shocked by Vasquez suicide

Posted: October 27, 2008 3:45 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Students at West Ranch High School read about Jeremiah Lasater, the 14-year-old freshman who committed suicide in a boys' bathroom at Vasquez High School Oct. 20.

 
West Ranch High School students reacted with a mixture of shock and dismay at the news of the death of Jeremiah Lasater, the 14-year-old freshman who committed suicide in a boys' bathroom at Vasquez High School Oct. 20.

"Wow, it never seems that real on TV, but when it hits close to home, it really has an impact," senior Dylan Davis said.

Most students expressed sympathy for Lasater and his family, as well as real disbelief that somebody, at the age of 14, could find life so unlivable as to commit suicide.

West Ranch Senior Laura Ruppert heard from parents of a student at Vasquez that Lasater was a "really nice kid."

However, many students had no knowledge of this tragic event, and were indignant that the school administration did not provide any information to students, even though the William S. Hart School District Board held an emergency meeting on the Tuesday following the suicide.

"I am shocked that something this serious happened and we weren't told at school," said Carly Farah, a senior.

This tragic event also caused other students to reflect on the act of bullying in schools.

"If anything, it's an illustration of the consequences of bullying. This is why people shouldn't bully," senior Max Johnson said. "It's bad for everybody. A lot of people do it for fun, but there are a lot of repercussions that people don't realize."

Others wondered why Vasquez High School officials were not able to address the issue before, and thought the Vasquez administration could have done something to prevent the bullying.

"The fact that the school wasn't able to notice any signs and prevent the situation is really disappointing," Farah said.

Some students were concerned about the availability of firearms.

"It makes me feel uneasy because he was able to get hold of a gun so easily," said Mina Choe, a senior.
For one student, this death had a more personal touch.

Senior Charlie McMullen said he "was reminded of when he lost a close friend in high school."

"People don't know how devastating it is," McMullen said. "Students really need to watch what they say, because it not only affects the person as an individual, but also affects the entire school."

A few students, however, were apathetic toward the incident, and emphasized personal responsibility.
"Honestly, I don't care. I don't have any preconceptions of suicide. He can commit suicide if he wants to," senior Patrick Allen said.

Many West Ranch students were reminded of the serious consequences of bullying, and thus motivated to work against this activity.

"It's a heartbreaking story, but serves as a reminder that our schools have to combat bullying," sophomore David Nemeschansky said.

Junior Matt Muir agreed.

"I think this event will provide the school and students with the impetus to start taking the right steps to prevent such events from happening in the future," Muir said.

Senior Olivia Marik-Reis hopes the suicide will force students to reevaluate the influence they have over other peers.

"I think it shows the importance of being kind to one another," Marik-Reis said.

Elston He is a West Ranch High School student and Signal intern.

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