Youth Suicide and The Colten Promise


Youth Suicide and The Colten Promise - Starting a conversation with your kids

Youth suicide rates have risen dramatically in the last decade. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10-24. Within that increase, rates have jumped the highest among young males. Let that sink in for a moment.

It’s a frightening statistic for parents and a nightmare situation that Corpus Christi Assistant Fire Chief and Fire Marshall Randy Paige, unfortunately, knows too well. In his words, he describes his son Colten:

Colten was a young man that had a servant’s heart, always seeing the best in people and always willing to seek out and help those that were in need of a friend. His smile would light up any room he walked into. He grew up loving baseball and played all the way through his senior year of high school at Calallen.  His professional goal was to someday work for the FBI. After graduating from high school in May 2014, he attended Del Mar College studying Criminal Justice.

In December 2015, just days after completing his 3rd semester at college, he took his own life. Colten was 19 years old.

Youth Suicide and The Colten Promise - Colten Paige

The death of our son has had a deep and profound feeling of grief for my wife and I. We decided shortly after Colten’s death that we needed to do something to educate and bring awareness to this silent killer, as we did not want this to happen to other parents. We too thought it only happened to other families, that is until December 13, 2015.  

Although the stigma associated with losing someone to suicide still exists for those who are survivors of suicide loss, we are seeing that both teens and parents are becoming more open to talking about it.

We designed The Colten Promise to allow both children and parents to begin talking about open communication – with the main goal of kids being able to talk about anything with parents, no matter how bad or embarrassing it may seem  without being judged – and a promise from parents to listen and provide children with help they need.

I encourage each of you with kids in this age group to get out of your comfort zone, print off The Colten Promise and sit down with your kids, read it and talk about it and then both sign it as a contract. Hang it on the refrigerator so it will be a constant reminder to both child and parents on what they both agreed to.

It is my hope and prayer every day that I never get a call that one of my fellow firefighters has suffered the same loss my family did 4 years ago.

Here is The Colten Promise:

Youth Suicide and The Colten Promise

The 4th annual suicide awareness Walk for Colten, has had to be rescheduled this year, but they hope to reschedule for later this year (prob. In September) during National Suicide Awareness month.

Kids who sign the pledge and bring it with them will be given a raffle ticket and entered into drawings for several prizes that will be given out during the walk. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line, a free, 24/7 confidential text messaging service that provides support to people in crisis. Send a text to 741741. 

We are losing too many kids to youth suicide. Please, please, let your children know every single day how much you care for and love them. Kids and especially teens are very good at acting like they don’t care about anything, when in fact, they may be hurting deeply on the inside. Communication, even if difficult is the first line of defense against losing a loved one. 

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Erin grew up in West Texas and met her husband there in college. She and J. have been married for 24 years and have lived all over Texas and the Caribbean. She settled in Corpus about 6 years ago and loves being close to the beach once again. Erin’s son arrived when she was 39, so she’s a late-comer to the mommy party! Erin has been writing in some form for most of her professional career, including for TV news, press releases and commercials. She joined CCMB to learn more about blogging. She also contributes videos of CCMB events. Likes: Weezer, avocados, nerd humor, reading, cooking, eating and wine. Dislikes: people who drive slow in the fast lane and being late.