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After Abbey Wolf's death by suicide at age 14, her family fights back

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Jon Wolf unlocked the figurative door of his Willow Grove home and invited me into his world of eternal grief. But I didn’t immediately turn the knob and enter. Didn’t. Couldn’t. When one is about to ask a father about his daughter’s death by suicide at age 14 less than a year ago, it's best to pause and remind one’s self that, despite the presence of a welcome mat, it’s best to proceed respectfully, gently, even somewhat apprehensively. Best, no doubt, to wait just a few ticks of the clock and remember to tread lightly around a dad’s wounds that will never fully heal.

“It’s OK to ask me about it,” said Wolf, sensing my hesitancy. “It’s one of those things people don’t like to talk about because they’re afraid of making survivors upset by bringing it to the forefront.

“But it’s an illness, like cancer and diabetes. By talking about it, it keeps that person around us, keeps the story alive. Our goal is to talk about those things people don’t want to talk about, to tell them it’s OK to talk about it. We can’t make it better if we don’t talk about it.”

Wolf talks about it because of Abbey and these statistics: Suicide is the third-leading cause of death in America for ages 15-24. During the coronavirus pandemic, the suicide attempt rate has increased by as much as half among teenage girls, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During summer 2020, emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts among girls, ages 12-17, increased by 26%, the study showed. Suicide ideation, or thoughts of suicide, numbered 12 million in 2019. Each day, an average of 130 Americans die by suicide, or one approximately every 11 minutes. Nearly 1.8 million in the US attempt suicide each year.

Unsettling numbers. To Wolf and his family, they go beyond numbers. Theirs has a face. And so, they've channeled their grief to assist others with mental health challenges.

As general manager of........

© The Intelligencer

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