Guest opinion: Reflections eight years after my brother's death | March 23, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - March 23, 2012

Guest opinion: Reflections eight years after my brother's death

by Julia Tachibana

On Nov. 14, 2003, I lost my brother Ben to suicide. I still remember that night vividly.

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Julia Tachibana is currently enrolled in a teaching credential program at UC Davis and is enjoying student teaching in a third grade classroom. And she remains active in her pursue to raise awareness about mental health issues.  For more information and help about suicide prevention, contact: Project Safety Net, or the Santa Clara County Suicide and Crisis Hotline, toll free, 1-855-278-4204.


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Posted by Marielena
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Julia Thanks for letting us know how it feels to lose a loved one to suicide. I cried while I was reading this article. I cannot imagine the pain that you and your mom felt when the police came to your house. I always think, on Ben and all of the others students who died in Palo Alto. They were my child's friends. And he did too felt the pain and his life changed forever. Sometimes I am tired of hearing the scanner and want to ended the volunteering job at the tracks, but when I think on the PAUSD students who did not got the chance to graduate and go to a famous universities as it is expected in this town, and instead they cut their lives short because they had a lot of stress, emotional issues or illness, or perhaps they were bullied at school. When they come to my mind is when I get more strength to keep involved in advocating for the youth, so the schools can become a better place for them, I am not talking about getting better grades, and going to better universities. I am talking about keeping them alive and emotionally healthy. I always think on the pain that their mothers and families go through, and I imagined that the pain is always there. I imagined that the ones, who live in the same house, still think that he or she is coming to eat dinner. I am glad you were brave to write this article to help other students who might be experiencing so much stress on their lives and might be at the point of ending their lives. With your words, you might be saving others from dying to suicide and mothers from suffering the loss of their loved one. I visited the house of one of the mothers, who lost her child to suicide, and I his room, when I saw his empty room that had pictures, cloths, toys, trophies on this bed, it was a moment I cannot describe. He was gone and would never comeback, but his empty room was there waiting for him. I was not the mother, but the pain that I felt was really bad. I felt like we as a society failed to this child, and it should stop. Julia, if you ever feel sad and do not have someone at your side to talk to, please calls me any time. I will be there for you, and for other young people who are feeling like no one cares. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I do not want to hear again that another child lost his or her life to suicide. The pain is unbearable for all specially the family and classmates. We have to do everything we can to stop this. We need to stop judging each other, and start working together. Yes suicide is everybody's business. I wish it was a dream and that the children of Palo Alto who died to suicide were here, and that their parents were happy again. By now they some of them would be at college, other graduating, others working and contributing to society. Thanks again Julia. Too bad they are gone, and their mother will never see them again. Your friend Marielena,

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Posted by Carrie
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Thank you so much for writing this, Julia. My heart goes out to you and your family for the terrible loss you suffered. You have grown so much in the past eight years and good for you - that you have found ways to cope. You shared some excellent advice in this piece and I know it will make a difference. I remember when Ben took his life. It was shortly after Steven Wertheimer did the same thing and the Palo Alto community was devastated by these losses. I'm so glad you have decided to become a teacher because you are obviously a very caring person and those students will be lucky to have you on their side. You would also make a wonderful school counselor (I'm a retired one!) There aren't as many of those jobs available these days but I hope you'll consider it. I wish you only the best in your life. Please let it be a long one.

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