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