Milan News Leader > News

MILAN: Community, school cope with teen's suicide

A Milan teenager's recent suicide prompted a strong response from school and county officials last week who are focused on confronting a disturbing trend.

From college campuses on the East Coast to middle schools in Indiana, Texas and California, suicides among youths have erupted this fall, forcing communities to explore how to address bullying, harassment and teen depression.

Several people attended a special forum on the overall topic of teen suicide and how to prevent it last week at the Milan Middle School Librarium.

The event was prompted by the recent suicide of Milan High School senior Brian Copaciu, 18, and to address the larger issue now gaining nationwide attention, officials said.

"The loss of a student is always a tragic event for a school district," Milan Area Schools Superintendent Bryan Girbach said. "The presentation ... is not only in response to the recent tragedy in Milan, but is truly in response to the nationwide concerns surrounding teen suicide."

Members of Copaciu's family were reportedly at the meeting, but were not available for comment. Attempts to reach them for this story were unsuccessful.

Copaciu was born in Ann Arbor and was a senior attending night classes.

He was on a lunch break from his classes at his grandparents' home when some family members last saw him alive Oct. 28, according to police reports. One relative reported hearing him inside an upstairs bathroom in the home sometime after midnight, followed by a series of distinct thump noises before they went to bed.

Copaciu's grandfather saw the bathroom light was on and called police after finding the teen's lifeless body at about 3:30 a.m.

Reports show he hung himself using a stepladder. Officers found a piece of paper in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt that was determined to be a suicide note. The contents of the note were not released. Continued...

Police later learned that he reached out to his younger sister, waking her at about 11 p.m. to talk about how he "couldn't take it anymore," and that he was going to "crack somebody's skull," according to reports. Whom or what he was talking about was not specified in the report. She told officers she talked with him until he calmed himself down and assured her he would not fight anyone or harm himself.

But that didn't happen. Copaciu's body was cut down and Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics attempted to revive him for more than 10 minutes before a University of Michigan Medical Center doctor that was briefed of the situation over the phone pronounced death at about 4 a.m., according to reports.

News traveled fast among his friends in the close-knit community and a tribute page was set up on www.facebook.com.

The school district responded with grief counselors and reached out for assistance from Washtenaw County officials.

Girbach explained that the district's response to suicide is two-fold. Initially, the district must work with the family to address some immediate needs appropriately. School officials will meet with the family and often refer them to outside agencies for support.

Then the district must work with the families of other students affected by the student's death, which often requires grief counselors and other specialists that can help restore a sense of normalcy.

Girbach said he wanted those in attendance, both students and parents, to leave with a better understanding of how critical the problem is and how they can help.

"It's our hope that the event will provide parents with information regarding the warning signs of suicide, how to help someone who is suicidal, and what you can do to protect your child against suicide," he said.

Nearly 20 percent of high school students have seriously considered suicide and more than 14 percent have made actual plans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The organization is researching possible legal methods to address the problem.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that the number of teenage suicides increased in recent years. It is still the third-leading cause of death for youths between the ages of 15 and 24 in America, trailing only traffic crashes and homicide. Continued...

Copaciu is survived by his parents and three sisters. He was buried at Marble Park Cemetery earlier this month.

Art Aisner is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at aaisner@comcast.net.

 
A Milan teenager's recent suicide prompted a strong response from school and county officials last week who are focused on confronting a disturbing trend.

From college campuses on the East Coast to middle schools in Indiana, Texas and California, suicides among youths have erupted this fall, forcing communities to explore how to address bullying, harassment and teen depression.

Several people attended a special forum on the overall topic of teen suicide and how to prevent it last week at the Milan Middle School Librarium.

The event was prompted by the recent suicide of Milan High School senior Brian Copaciu, 18, and to address the larger issue now gaining nationwide attention, officials said.

"The loss of a student is always a tragic event for a school district," Milan Area Schools Superintendent Bryan Girbach said. "The presentation ... is not only in response to the recent tragedy in Milan, but is truly in response to the nationwide concerns surrounding teen suicide."

Members of Copaciu's family were reportedly at the meeting, but were not available for comment. Attempts to reach them for this story were unsuccessful.

Copaciu was born in Ann Arbor and was a senior attending night classes.

He was on a lunch break from his classes at his grandparents' home when some family members last saw him alive Oct. 28, according to police reports. One relative reported hearing him inside an upstairs bathroom in the home sometime after midnight, followed by a series of distinct thump noises before they went to bed.

Copaciu's grandfather saw the bathroom light was on and called police after finding the teen's lifeless body at about 3:30 a.m.

Reports show he hung himself using a stepladder. Officers found a piece of paper in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt that was determined to be a suicide note. The contents of the note were not released.

Police later learned that he reached out to his younger sister, waking her at about 11 p.m. to talk about how he "couldn't take it anymore," and that he was going to "crack somebody's skull," according to reports. Whom or what he was talking about was not specified in the report. She told officers she talked with him until he calmed himself down and assured her he would not fight anyone or harm himself.

But that didn't happen. Copaciu's body was cut down and Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics attempted to revive him for more than 10 minutes before a University of Michigan Medical Center doctor that was briefed of the situation over the phone pronounced death at about 4 a.m., according to reports.

News traveled fast among his friends in the close-knit community and a tribute page was set up on www.facebook.com.

The school district responded with grief counselors and reached out for assistance from Washtenaw County officials.

Girbach explained that the district's response to suicide is two-fold. Initially, the district must work with the family to address some immediate needs appropriately. School officials will meet with the family and often refer them to outside agencies for support.

Then the district must work with the families of other students affected by the student's death, which often requires grief counselors and other specialists that can help restore a sense of normalcy.

Girbach said he wanted those in attendance, both students and parents, to leave with a better understanding of how critical the problem is and how they can help.

"It's our hope that the event will provide parents with information regarding the warning signs of suicide, how to help someone who is suicidal, and what you can do to protect your child against suicide," he said.

Nearly 20 percent of high school students have seriously considered suicide and more than 14 percent have made actual plans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The organization is researching possible legal methods to address the problem.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that the number of teenage suicides increased in recent years. It is still the third-leading cause of death for youths between the ages of 15 and 24 in America, trailing only traffic crashes and homicide.

Copaciu is survived by his parents and three sisters. He was buried at Marble Park Cemetery earlier this month.

Art Aisner is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at aaisner@comcast.net.

 

ADVERTISEMENT


Comments

The following are comments from the readers. In no way do they represent the view of Heritage Newspapers.

DawnEarly wrote on Nov 24, 2010 11:54 PM:

" Your story about Brian brought tears to my eyes. Tears of outrage and disgust for you and your article. I know members of Brian's family, and my sons knew him from school. Do you have any clue of the hurt and anguish you have caused this grieving family by publishing all the details of this young man's death? How dare you cross the line into tabloid gossip and sensationalism by using this tragedy to get your name in a byline? And I am ashamed to see my hometown's name across the banner of the paper this was published in. If the FAMILY had wanted the details of his death made public, they would have made a statement to the public themselves. Do you have no decency? No tact? You couldn't write this without all the intimate details? The article should have been focused on the EFFECT his death had, how it brought the school and the community together to try to prevent any more devastating suicides by our young people. NO ONE outside of his family had any right to these details. Did you not think of the effect your article would have on his grandparents? Do you not think they have enough guilt and grief in their hearts? That his family and his friends don't all ask themselves what if? And to the editor of the paper who let this crap get published, SHAME ON YOU AS WELL!!! You all owe this family a published apology! "

REMINGTON wrote on Nov 25, 2010 1:38 AM:

" So what was the point of printing this "news" story almost a month after the incident occurred? Was it a slow news day? Or just a way to print some morbid details of a family's private pain in the name of freedom of information? I didn't see anything helpful here...no numbers listed for suicide prevention lines, no useful information on how to deal with this kind of thing. You should stick to printing recipes and sports scores. "

DawnEarly wrote on Nov 25, 2010 10:40 AM:

" Remington: I couldn't agree more! The article started out in the right direction, but then quickly took a turn for the worst. It was sloppy, and seemed to use the community meeting as a way for this "journalist" to exploit a teenager's pain and his family's grief. There was no helpful information, no suggestions as to where teens could turn for help, no links to suicide prevention, counseling, nothing. Like I said before, I am disgusted and ashamed to see Milan's name above that article. "

Login To Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

*Member ID:
*Password:
Remember login?
(requires cookies)
  Forgot Your Password?
 

Not Registered? Sign up today for free!

Do not use usernames or passwords from your financial accounts!

Note: Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required!

*Create a Member ID:
*Choose a password:
*Re-enter password:
*E-mail Address:
*Year of Birth:
 

(children under 13 cannot register)

*First Name:
*Last Name:
Company:
Home Phone:
Business Phone:
*Address:
*City:
*State:
*Zip Code:
 


Social Wire

National News Videos



Recent Activity on Facebook



Blog Center

Media Lab

Community Media Lab Blog

Community Media Lab is a public outreach project launched by Heritage.com providing a learning-based and collaborative environment where community contributors can experiment, learn and grow.

Frye

Frye on the News

Stephen Frye has covered the police beat and courts for The Oakland Press and now serves as online editor for www.theoaklandpress.com.

Jerry

Voices of Disability

Jerry Wolffe works as the disability rights advocate for the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center and is a former reporter with The Oakland Press. He still writes the Voices of Disability column and created a blog for those who miss reading his articles in the paper. In his blog, he writes profiles of extraordinary people with disabilities, civil rights and inspires his readers and to help others find the way to a world where no one is judged by how they look or their talents but are loved because they are alive.

Pat

Open Book

Pat Caputo is a sports columnist for The Oakland Press who covered the Tigers from 1986-98, and the Lions from 1998-2002.

More Blogs

MI Central Blog Center