Sep 22, 2014 2:19 PM
Suicide in NH: Derry father speaks out about loss of son
DERRY - It is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 34 and it's on the rise.
We're talking about suicide.
Now with National Suicide Prevention week, state of New Hampshire officials are trying a new approach to help save lives.
Nathan was a well-liked young man," said Michael Folley, Nathan's father. "Nathan was a well-liked young man. He loved to dirt bike he had tons of friends. He loved to dirt bike. He loved to play X-Box. He had tons of friends. Just a normal 15-year-old kid."
But beneath 15-year-old Nathan Folley's big smile, all of his friends, and his happy-go-lucky attitude, it turns out he hid a secret.
Then on September 7, 2010, the sophomore at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, Nathan took his own life and left his family shattered.
We asked Nathan's father if he had ever noticed any signs or indications that his son was having a problem.
"Not that really stood out other than being a normal 15-year-old with girlfriends breaking up and then going this week with another one," Folley said. "Nothing that struck me that he would do something like this. It really didn't soak in until I really saw him the next day at the funeral home."
The entire family was in shock and remained numb for weeks.
The pain, they said, will never go away.
"Sunday the 7th was four years since he died and it still feels like yesterday," said Michael Folley.
Nathan is just one reason why the state is now ramping up its efforts to help others.
Doctor P. Travis Harker specializes in Family Medicine at Concord Hospital and along with other state health officials met in Concord.
The idea was to inform the public about new high-tech ways for anyone to get help.
Dr. Harker talked about electronic medical records that allow most facilities and hospitals to know a person's medical and mental history and can make screening for suicide risk factors more efficient so treatment could be offered sooner.
They reminded the public about creating smart phone applications. Essentially, it's high-tech help for those who need it.
Nathan's father can only wish his son had told him about how he felt.
He also regrets Nathan never had the opportunity to utilize these high-tech tools.
We asked him if the technology could have helped Nathan.
Folley said, "I'm not sure. Some of the apps could have helped."
They may have helped but still, Folley said, there's always the possibility they could have done more harm than good.
These days, Folley keeps his son's memory alive and not just with a tattoo on his arm but with a yearly motorcycle ride.
All proceeds from that ride go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in New Hampshire to help families affected by mental illness and suicide in New Hampshire to get the word out that no one has to be alone and that parents need to remain vigilant.
When asked why he keeps his son's memory alive year after year?
He answered, "I don't want anyone to have to be sitting where I'm sitting. This is not something I'd wish on my worst enemy. I don't want anyone to have to go through this and if it's preventable, then let's prevent it."
And even though Nathan is no longer here, his father said his spirit will live on forever.
"He's always with me," Folley said. "He'll never go away.
The suicide rate in New Hampshire has fluctuated during the last decade from 10.3 suicides per 100,000 deaths in 2004 to 15.4 suicides in 2012.
Here are some of the warning signs to look out for. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, some of the warnings can be increased drug and/or alcohol use and extreme mood swings.
If you need help or know someone who does, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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