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Mother Campaigns To Get Suicide Prevention Into Classrooms

On November 8th, 2007, Denise Austin’s life was changed forever.

Her eldest son shot and killed himself in the family home. 2-and-a-half years later she’s fighting to find support for suicide survivors like her.

An ?A? student, an athlete, and popular in his class, Josh Austin’s suicide was a shock to everyone who knew and loved him, especially his mom.

“I talked to Josh about everything,? said Denise. ?There were no clues, no signs. I talked to his teachers they never suspected anything. It came as a complete and total shock to everyone.”

On November 8th, 2007, Josh posted two messages on his page. One read: ?I’m going to do something really stupid tonight and I’m apologizing to the people it’s going to hurt in advance.”

Later he wrote: “call the police, tell them to go up to my bedroom”

The police were called. Josh was found dead. He had shot himself with a gun that had been stored in the home.

His family was left to wonder why, and Josh?s mom still wonders what she could have done differently to prevent this tragedy.

?I just wish that I would have known that he was in some kind of pain. “He was ready to get his license, he was driving, we were saving money for his car. Unfortunately, instead of buying him a car we were buying him his casket.”

Kids don’t usually tell there parents they’re thinking of killing themselves, but they do hint to their friends. And Josh had friends. Plenty of them.

He and his buddies were at all the football games cheering on the team at Palm Springs High School. But according to his mom, his friends never hinted there was a problem.

Accepting it is easier said than done.

After Josh died, Denise had a hard time finding support here in the valley. Online, she discovered the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention and got involved. Now, she’s helping them bring a chapter to the desert.

“My biggest passion about this is I want to bring educational materials into the schools throughout the Coachella Valley,” she said.

Denise believes “suicide shouldn’t be a secret,” and wishes Josh would have had a chance to talk to someone at school about it.

“If it could happen to my kid, it could happen to any kid,? Denise said.

Three kids, including Josh, killed themselves at Palm Springs High School that year.

Denise and the two other moms had to travel to Riverside for support.

At this point, Denise is hoping the national support group forms a chapter here, and helps get suicide education into the classroom.

There will be a community forum on suicide Monday night at the Palm Desert Library. The public is welcome.

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