OSHKOSH - Counselors say the fight against suicide is a battle that has to be fought on all fronts, though it's often a subject that is tucked away and out of sight.
"So many families are affected by suicide," said Doug Bisbee, executive director of Community for Hope of Greater Oshkosh, a non-profit that works to provide suicide awareness, education and support. "I'm trying to address the stigma – people don't want to talk about mental health issues."
Bisbee, a former pastor and current counselor with Samaritan Counseling Center, says times of grief can compound underlying mental health issues, like depression.
On Saturday, a 17-year-old former Oshkosh West High School student took his own life.
On Monday, his father also killed himself.
"Addressing suicide is a community issue," said Bisbee.
While not knowing the exact circumstances of the incident, he says everyone must be aware of changes in the habits and attitudes of friends and loved ones; and more importantly, willing to take positive action to potentially save a life.
"It's tough to look at someone and say, ‘Are you thinking about suicide, about committing suicide?'" explained Bisbee. "It's one of the hardest things to ask someone. But yet, it is the most important thing to ask."
FOX 11 reached out to the family of the deceased through the funeral home providing the services for the family; we haven't heard back. FOX 11 is not identifying the father and son, out of respect for the family.
The Oshkosh Area School District is responding to the tragedy, providing counselors at Oshkosh West and making services available at other schools, if needed.
"There's a heightened awareness," said district superintendent Stan Mack.
Mack says teachers and staff are especially vigilant during this time, looking for signs of concern.
"It's something we worry most about is, the whole issue of, with any major incident, is always the issue of copy cat behavior," said Mack. "They just don't allow it to be a passing conversation – that they take it seriously."
Mack says counseling services will continue through the week.
If you think you, a friend or loved one need help with depression or might be contemplating suicide, please click here for more information about how to get help.
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