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You hear about it every day: Young people struggling to find themselves, to fit in, to make good grades.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the state among people ages 15-34.

What you don't often hear is parents speaking out about their child's condition and about their death.

But, when you do, it's a message that resonates with everyone.

Aiden Ayres, a 15-year-old sophomore at Shenandoah High School, took his own life Jan. 26. His father, Doug Ayres, found his son the next morning.

"He was really a good kid," his father said. "As far as his friends go, he was about the most caring kid you could find."

Described as an exceptional young man by his parents, Aiden was fighting a difficult battle: depression.

According to data from Kids Count, about 30 percent of Indiana high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more, which resulted in changes in their behavior during the past 12 months. According to the same data, about 10 percent of high school-aged students in Indiana said they attempted suicide in the previous 12 months.

Aiden's family said the teenager had been through a rough time in the last 18 months, including a recent move to his father's home. His mother, Amanda Cooper, said she had a bad feeling the night he died. "When my ex called me Sunday morning, I knew that was it," she said.

"He had his whole life ahead of him," said his mother. "There's no way to make sense of it. You don't see it coming."

During such a difficult time, Aiden's parents did the right thing by talking about their son's depression and death.

"I want people to know this is real, get your teenagers help," Aiden's father said. "I keep thinking we didn't help him soon enough. I think we were too late."

Let's hope their voices are heard. That the next family isn't "too late."

Whether you need help, want to help a loved one or are a survivor, organizations can assist you:

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, seven days a week, suicidepreventionlifeline.org;

• American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: afsp.org.

-- The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.

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