His name was Ryan Zicha. He has 321 friends on his Facebook page--three hundred and twenty-one people who cared enough either to "friend" him or accept his "friend request." Yet he died alone Friday, January, 14, 2011. Ryan took his own life.
I don't know all the factors leading to Ryan's suicide, although he did face some challenges that I suspect just became too much for a fragile and vulnerable soul to bear.
Ryan was my student several years ago. He came to our school mid-year. A gifted writer, Ryan and I clicked immediately, spending lots of time after school talking about writing and books. He visited me during Christmas break and returned three books he'd borrowed months ago. I can't help but wonder if he was tying up loose ends that day.
During his visit, Ryan talked about the problems he had been coping with in recent months. Rewinding the conversation in my mind, I remember Ryan saying the issues had been resolved and that he was looking forward to moving, getting a new job, and continuing his education.
Sadly, life's complications seemed to follow Ryan, including a diagnosis of Juvenile diabetes years ago. At times his many troubles perplexed those who knew him and wanted to support him. Maybe we just didn't know how.
I'm thinking about Ryan's family and their unbearable grief. I'm thinking about how I can honor Ryan's life and in doing so better help other students deal with life more successfully. For the moment, all I really can think about is Hamlet and Laertes' line when he sees his fallen friend: "Good night sweet prince; / And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."