Todd and Christine Rogers of Kernersville, North Carolina have been on a mission since the suicide that ended their young daughter’s life. Ashley Rogers, 15, died April 14, 2010—less than one month ago—and since that tragic day, her parents have been tirelessly trying to raise awareness about the threat of teenage suicide.
Of course, Ashley’s parents are grief-stricken over the loss of their daughter, and they realize that the grieving process will last a long time. But over the past few weeks, they’ve welcomed many teenagers into their home because though they were not ready to say goodbye to their daughter, they are ready for others to learn from her and their experience with teenage depression.
The Rogers have a goal that will get them through the grief. They want everyone—especially teenagers—to understand that depression is nothing to be ashamed of.
Ashley’s mother, Christine Rogers, said, “Whenever Ashley talked about depression (at school), she felt like she was a bug under a microscope and it was taboo,” in an article from news-record.com. And Todd Rogers, Ashley’s dad, pointed out the fact that there are programs that attempt to raise awareness and educate teens about the dangers of alcohol, drugs and unsafe sex, but that there are no such programs related to teen suicide. “For the ages of 15-24,” Mr. Rogers said, “(suicide) is the third leading cause of death.”
That’s a pretty remarkable statistic. And with the proven success of programs like D.A.R.E. and comprehensive sexual education in public schools, doesn’t teenage depression and suicide prevention merit similar attention?
Not only did Ashley suffer from depression, but she was also the victim of teen bullying. Teen bullying has been in the news a lot recently. Sadly, Ashley was targeted by bullies. Shortly before her death, she received taunting text messages. It’s hard to say whether the bullying and cyber-bullying she faced were the cause of her depression, but the teasing and harassment clearly exacerbated the situation.
In addition to raising awareness, the Rogers are committed to the creation and inclusion of laws to combat cyber-bullying. They have spoken with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School board and local legislators about how they’d like to see the School Violence Prevention Act (which the NC General Assembly signed into law in 2009) directly address the dangers of harassment and bullying via text message, emails and online social media.
Through the important work that Ashley Rogers’ parents are already pursuing in her memory, Ashley Rogers’ cautionary tale may prove to be a positive force for years to come, despite her early and untimely death.