With permission from the friends of Ryan, I share with you the letter they presented to the Mounds View School Board.
10 April 2018
School board members, staff , Mounds View community:
First of all, we would like to thank you for your support in the midst of this great tragedy. Your thoughts and prayers mean so much to us and to the Lind family. As we all try to overcome this tragedy and large hole that will forever be in our lives, it is important to remember Ryan for the great student, athlete, and, most importantly, friend that he was to all of us. Ryan truly was an all around incredible person. While he was quiet sometimes, he would always make a funny or sarcastic comment that would make someone’s day. Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, Ryan impacted so many people around him, and his smile always lit up the room. We understand that you, as teachers and administrators, felt this aura too.
We wanted to share some fun memories that we had of Ryan. One of the most fun memories that we have was a number of years ago when some of us went trick-or-treating together in middle school. After we finished getting candy, we dumped all of it in one big pile then ran a “business exchange” of sorts as we split the candy amongst ourselves. We remember laughing and having a good time on that evening together with Ryan. Memories like these will stay in our hearts for a long time, even as we still continue to come to terms with our, and the school’s and community’s, loss.
In the words of C.S. Lewis: “Out of all human events, it is tragedy alone that brings people out of their petty desires and into awareness of other humans’ suffering. Tragedy occurs in human lives so that we will learn to reach out and comfort others.” Because of this tragedy, we are reaching out to you. The great sorrow and pain that we have felt since Ryan’s death is something that no one should ever have to face. Recent events have opened our eyes to the pressing issue of mental health that surrounds our community. For this reason, we have developed a list of what we feel are necessary changes in the way classrooms are run.
First off, there are many issues in the social environment at Mounds View. Following true to normal adolescent behavior, many students feel and act as though the world revolves around them. Especially in the classroom, this leaves more compassionate students with a sense of worthlessness and, overall, discourages a healthy social environment at MVHS. While students are ultimately responsible for their own actions, teachers and parents can play an enormous role in how students conduct themselves. For teachers, the most crucial thing you can do for your struggling students is to pay close attention to the social situation of your classroom by actively seeking out students who seem isolated and uninvolved, not just ones who are struggling academically. Parents, we cannot stress to you enough the importance of teaching your children compassion. Far too often do students feel as though they are the center of the universe. This is a childish and harmful worldview that should have no place in our school environment. In addition, make sure your children know that grades are not everything; the world is not going to end if your child does not live up to either your or their expectations. Finally, we would like to reach out to our community members and ask for their support. The Mounds View administration and staff are severely overwhelmed and desperately need the help of our community members. Please establish contact with our administration and ask how you can get involved and help volunteer with the students at Mounds View. Above all, our students need people to listen and share in their experiences.
While we continue to work with the school administration to ensure that this never happens again, it is paramount that we remember Ryan for who he was and for the great life he lived. Although short, life is not measured in years. Life is measured by the number of lives that you touch around you. Ryan embodied this principle of compassion every single day. He touched so many lives and truly made an impact on the world around him. Everybody loved Ryan for the person that he was. He was considerate. He was funny. He was the friendliest person many of us have ever met.
Our primary concern at the moment is finding a way to remember and honor our dear friend for the outstanding person that he was and the incredible life that he lead. However, the current stigma that surrounds suicide and mental health issues is making it somewhat difficult for us to do so. When we discussed our concerns with the Administration, they made it clear to us that their main fear was the contagious nature of suicide through potential glorification. While we understand where the Administration is coming from, not talking about suicide and mental health simply perpetuates the stigma that surrounds it. We have been in contact with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and in an email to us they wrote, ¨Talking about depression, mental health, and suicide is not going to cause anyone to die by suicide. When we ignore it or find ways to talk around suicide, we end up continuing the stigma and demonizing mental health problems and crises people may be having. . . Keep encouraging others to talk about depression and suicide. That's how we help people and save lives¨. We want to work with the Administration to keep the conversation about suicide and mental health going and not close the door on this important topic.
Although we do not have enough room to sum up Ryan’s personality on this sheet of paper, we would like to share a few things with you. Ryan would talk to people that did not have a lot of friends, Ryan would cheer up anybody when they were having a bad day, and Ryan’s exuberant smile would make anybody in the classroom smile and laugh. We have committed ourselves to embody the values that he demonstrated everyday and we hope staff, students, and community members will do so as well. Seeing Ryan in others and seeing the impact he made will help all of us overcome this tragedy. There will never be a day that goes by where we will not think about Ryan as we walk through the hallways of school. To walk where he walked, to laugh where he laughed, to study where he studied, and to learn where he learned… there will always be a gap and pain and sorrow in our hearts. Over time, these feelings will bring back feelings of joy and allow us to reminisce about the great memories we made with him. To our great friend, classmate, student, and teammate, you will never be forgotten, and your memory will live on forever.
-Friends of Ryan Lind
My thoughts and prayers are with Ryan, his friends, and his family during this time of grief and healing.
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It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.
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Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.
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