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Rutland instructor's speech for survivors of suicide published - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Rutland instructor's speech for survivors of suicide published

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RUTLAND, Vt. -

Survivors of suicide, the family and friends left behind must deal with immense grief and are more likely to die by suicide too.

When Stafford Technical Center video instructor Curt Casper was just 18, his entire world was turned upside down. His father, Craig, killed himself. 

"He drove in front of a train. And it destroyed my family, absolutely destroyed them, because we didn't see it coming," said Casper.

His father's suicide was the beginning of many problems for the family he left behind. Casper was racked with guilt.

"After the suicide, you look back and say, oh yeah, I saw that or oh yeah that happened, and why didn't I notice that," said Casper. 

His family fought over financial issues.

"All of a sudden you get this huge life insurance check for someone who just committed suicide, and all you want to do is spend it, because you feel guilty that this happened," said Casper.

He even had thoughts of repeating what his father had done to cause so much pain.

"Led me to six months later actually having my own first suicide thought, where I said, well, why don't I just drive in front of a train," said Casper. 

A sentiment that is actually quite common in survivors of a suicide.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says that survivors are five times more likely to die by suicide themselves. Dr. Dan Belau says that on the average, it takes survivors four and a half years after a suicide to seek help.

Casper explores those left behind after a suicide in a speech, "Survivor Support," which was recently published in a college textbook, Understanding Human Communication. His students are proud.

"It's pretty awesome, if you ask me. You know, just being able to do that and take something that was most likely uncomfortable and being able to help people with it," said student Josh Drew. 

It also makes them take a second look at other students who may need help.

"Everyone needs someone to talk to now and then, just to get stuff off their chest, and so like, they don't keep it bundled up inside," said student Tony Sherburne.

School administrators are honored to have Casper as a colleague.

"He's a remarkable young man. To be able to do that and confront that the way he has, in a very public and open way, he should be applauded for that," said Lyle Jepson, the director of the Stafford Technical Center.

Casper hopes his speech being published will help other survivors and get the conversation going about those left behind.

"Our society doesn't want to talk about it, we don't want to talk about suicide, we don't want to talk about what goes on after suicide. These people are left behind with all this guilt," said Casper.

He encourages those going through this to not be afraid and just speak to anyone about how they are feeling and seek help so the chain of pain and guilt can be broken.

Casper is also a former reporter and assistant public speaking coach for Rutland High School, encouraging his students to draw from their personal experiences and write their own speeches.

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