Community responds to incomprehensible loss, benefit for bereaved family

Olivia Hansen, Oct. 28, 1999 - April 21, 2013 | Photo by Aubree Hegdahl, courtesy of Hope Clyde

ST. GEORGE –  There are few things in life’s experience as difficult to bear as the loss of a child. And when a child takes her own life, the after-shocks to family, friends and the community as a whole defy description.

Local communities are struggling with these incomprehensible losses as the second young teenager in two months took her life Sunday.

Through the struggle to accept what does not make sense, some are finding ways to put love into action for the support of one grieving family and to open up a process of service through which children and adults may find expression.

One of these is a benefit car wash and bake sale to help the Corey and Becky Hansen family with funeral costs for their 13-year-old-daughter, Olivia. It will be held Friday from 3-5 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1610 N. Dixie Downs Road in St. George. Everyone’s donations and participation are welcomed. Monetary gifts and donations of baked goods, crafts and any other items for sale are invited.

Heather McInnes, a member of the Hansens’ ward, conceived of the idea.

“My focus hasn’t been to find out answers,” McInnes said, “but to be there to help (the Hansens) and the kids, the kids are kind of struggling in the ward.”

“The area around here has been heavy and dark,” McInnes said. ”Some people’s love language is to physically do something and serving somebody else lifts my spirits so I thought this would be good for everyone.”

McInnes called on her friend, Hope Clyde, to help.

“I’ve known Corey (Hansen) my whole life,” Clyde said. “We love them so much. Our families are committed pretty deep. And these youth are so impressionable right now. When Heather came up with this idea to serve, I had to jump right on this.”

McInnes and Clyde launched a Facebook page for the benefit event and set up processes for donations (details at the close of this article).

“We just need something to do,’” Clyde said emphatically, “We want to take the burden off of this family. We want to make it like it never happened but we can’t do that; but what we can do is uplift the family and help with their financial situation and … give the youth of the neighborhood something to do – giving all of us somewhere else to focus our energy and to do good and make the situation better.”

The bereaved mother posted on the benefit Facebook Thursday:

This is so amazing and unbelievable! There are so many wonderful, giving people in this world! Reading all these posts has me in tears. Corey and I have decided that any extra funds after the funeral is covered will be donated to some kind of youth help group or teen suicide prevention group. People are being so generous that we’re going to have more than enough! We hope to help other teens so maybe another family won’t have to go through this.

Clyde said that word went out about the tragedy Sunday afternoon and people instantly converged to help in all sorts of ways. The bishop from their ward invited a gathering of the whole community, she said, and people of all ages came filling the chapel and half of the church’s gym. She said the bishop spoke and others shared:

“Almost always with suicide we want to make sense of it and it almost always doesn’t,” was one point brought out at the meeting, “… so here we sit and we’re still living with it.”

“If people see how much Olivia was really loved, they’ll see ‘maybe people love me too?’” McInnes said, urging young people to talk to their parents, or talk to anyone, about their needs.

Although it is beyond the scope of this report to explore the motivation or causes contributing to this tragedy, bullying does not appear to be one of them.

“This was not a direct result of bullying,” Clyde said.

Washington County School District has responded to meet needs of students with counselors and other support.

Both Olivia Hansen and Ashley Rubio, 12, who died by her own hand on February 23, were students of Lava Ridge Intermediate School in Santa Clara. Lava Ridge principal deferred comment to the school district’s assistant superintendent who has not returned our call as this report is published.

Event recap / Donations

What: Car Wash and Bake Sale Benefit for the Hansen Family

When: Friday, April 26, 2013, 3-5 p.m.

Where: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1610 N. Dixie Downs Road, St. George (this is a public event)

Websites: Facebook

Donations by direct deposit at any Wells Fargo Bank to the account of “Olivia Hansen Memorial Fund.”

Donations by mail in to Southwest Federal Credit Union 1827 West Sunset Blvd St George Utah 84770, account #1065442, payable to Corey or Becky Hansen.

Email: jkuzmanic@stgnews.com

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Olivia Hansen, Oct. 28, 1999 - April 21, 2013 | Photo courtesy of Hope Clyde
Olivia Hansen, Oct. 28, 1999 – April 21, 2013 | Photo by Aubree Hegdahl, courtesy of Hope Clyde

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9 Comments

  • Ramona Lundquist April 25, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    After reading about these teenagers I decided to do an article in my blog about how suicide affected me and my family. There are no answers,but at the time of our loss we too were greatful to the comunity of St.George for their support.

  • Kayleah shae bennett April 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I’m so very sorry for your loss and me and my family will miss her so much!
    my parents are Jetta leah (stratton)bennett and Robert sandburg bennett.
    and my brother grew up with Olivia and same with my sister. braxton is Olivias age. and every
    day i look forward and i think of you guys and how hard it must be!
    love you guys my prayers and thoughts are with you.

  • Mel T Shingleton April 25, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    So so sorry to hear of your loss, may heavenly Father bring peace to your heart’s and home.

    Mel & Bethany Shingleton

  • cmcneil April 25, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    I am at a loss for words. Someone so young with so much in front of them giving up. My heart goes out to her family.

  • Cassia April 26, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Lava Ridge- the school (where these 2 recent suicides both attended school) is not helpful with these issues. My son attends school there. He has depression issues that he has been treated for for over 3 years, sees a counselor and a psychiatrist. They really don’t want to deal with students like him. They need some training instead of telling kids “this is bull crap and shape up!” Yes, that’s what was said to my son during a depressive episode THIS WEEK at school by one of the administrators. Until they actually know how to handle students who really need help, whose families are doing all they can, etc… The students won’t turn to admin or school counselors for help.

  • Big Don April 26, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Cassia, if your son is not getting the help he needs at school, then you as his loving parent must take whatever steps are necessary to see that he does get help. I don’t believe in “coddling,” over much, but I do think there are folks who really do need the help.
    I cannot think of anything that is sadder than the suicide of a young person. And it is becoming more and more frequent as time passes. I wonder just how much of it is spawned by electronic entertainment. When I was a kid, I never heard of a suicide among my peers. We were too busy moving around a sports field, or helping out in the family business, or both. We didn’t sit for hours, watching mindless violence on TV or playing violent video games. Oh sure, we’d hit the ice cream parlor and play a few pinball games. But we didn’t have unlimited money to spend on that stuff, (and our parents made sure that we didn’t,) so it was kept within reason.
    My heart goes out to the friends and loved ones of these children.

  • Cassia April 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks Big Don- we are. My point is that school can become such a depressive horrid place for some…if the adults lack professionalism and call “bull crap” at someone that is having an episode- that’s not what they need!!! The kids there don’t trust the admin…Families are much more complicated than ever. School should be a safe place – but some adults have their favorites just like kids do. Obviously there is a problem at that school…

  • Bev Lowe April 28, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Thank you for a compassionate, well written article about the passing of these two girls. Maybe the discussion can begin between parents and their children to come to a greater understanding as to what is going on, before it is too late. I know first hand what suicide does to those left behind, The what ifs that are asked while you try to think if you could have made a difference in the life of someone else. Prayers to the family, friends and classmates of these girls and everyone effected by this tragedy. May we someday understand ~

  • Julie May 22, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    My son has been at Lava Ridge for 2 years now. He has has problems with being bullied both years. But we draw together as a family in the evening hours. He doesn’t spend hours on Facebook engaged in talks that would shock some adults. My son knew one of the girls. I saw their Facebooks and some of the conversations they were engaged in were so sad. … My intention is not to shame any parent….but parents NEED to be actively involved in the lives of their teens. My son is not on Facebook, instagram and the like unsupervised. If we was ever engaged in those online conversations his account would be shut down.

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