Jazzmine M. Jones-Caldwell, Archbold, age 15.
Michael J. Schwartz, Wauseon, age 13.
Joshua W. Stanford, Archbold, age 17.
Anthony W. McCoy, Archbold, age 17.
The list of names is alarming and incomprehensible. Each was taken from their communities suddenly, without preparation or warning.
Two died in automobile-related accidents, another by accidental gunshot. One died by her own hand.
This rash of deaths of local youths in the past month shocks like a lightening bolt and makes us take notice.
Everyone asks the same question. Why?
There’s no answer. No one can explain. No one can understand. No one can justify.
Christians take comfort in their faith; others seek solace elsewhere.
So how do we react to this sudden and unwelcome invasion of death into the ranks of our youth?
We do what we can, what we must, to prevent further losses.
We talk to our children. We look for the warning signs that they’re troubled or anxious, that they may be considering a permanent solution to temporary problems.
We make extra sure our firearms are safely locked away, and our youngsters learn a healthy respect for their deadly potential.
We lecture our boys and girls again, and again, and again, and again if necessary, on safety in and around automobiles.
We make driving safely our highest priority when we get behind the wheel and drive defensively, because accidents happen in an instant.
Some may say it’s closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. We say it’s the way to prevent further tragedy.
The arrival of prom and graduation season adds to the sense of urgency that parents must sit down with their teenagers and reinforce the importance of being smart and being safe. Make sure they don’t talk on the phone or text while driving. Keep their attention on the road, not on their passengers. Watch out for others who may not be paying attention.
We are all poorer for the loss of these youths. We must do what we can to stop this tragic streak.