Archive for Thursday, October 11, 2012

100 years ago: Teenager’s suicide ‘most pathetic tragedy’

October 11, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Oct. 11, 1912:

"Verne Stevens, fifteen years old, was a boy just like other boys, but he knew not as much of the joys of this big world as other boys of fifteen know and realize. The darker side of life, its cares and struggles, had been thrust upon him and they deprived him of boyish pleasures. He saw other boys at play and at school and he craved their association, he longed for the joys which were theirs. He was out of harmony with the world, it held no charms for him for his parents are poor and Verne was obliged to work while other boys of his own age played and studied. Today his lifeless body is all that remains of a boy physically like other boys but socially at odds with life and the world. That craving, the unhappiness of the lot that was his and an incontrollable desire to escape it led Verne Stevens to blot out the existence that had been so barren and unpleasant to him. The longing for that which he could not attain has passed away and Verne Stevens' little body is at rest. Dangling from a strap that body was discovered in a barn south of Lawrence yesterday afternoon. Life was gone when it was discovered. The strap had done its fatal work and the story of this boy's life ended in one of the most pathetic tragedies ever enacted in Douglas County. A boy of only fifteen years had taken his own life.... The tragedy occurred yesterday afternoon at the old Curtis Farm south of Lawrence and near the Deichman Crossing. The father of the boy is a hay and straw baler.... Verne was working with his father yesterday morning doing some work on the Curtis farm. At noon the father and the boy prepared their dinner and ate together and following that the father told the boy to choose between washing the dishes and tending to the horses. The boy chose the dishes. He performed these duties well, washing every plate and cup and saucer clean and drying them and putting them away ready for use at the next meal. He made things tidy about the tent and left everything in the best of order. Then he disappeared.... Verne did not appear to resume the work of the afternoon and the father began a search.... Finally they found him, in the old barn on the place, but it was only his lifeless body. The searchers had found him too late."


Sheryl Wiggins 5 years, 8 months ago

what a tragedy. Quite a difference on the way this was reported 100 years ago and how it would be today, I think.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 8 months ago

The Lawrence Journal-World does not report suicides at all, there's just an obituary.

They are not reported out of respect for the family, and also so that the copycat effect does not take place.

My younger brother committed suicide over a decade ago, and I'm certainly glad that the details were not in print for the whole town to read. Everybody knew all about it anyway.

But, it was his choice to make, and I wasn't responsible for it. It's been very difficult for me to realize that I was not responsible for anyone's suicide, I've lost a few friends that way. But you know? The toughest one was E. He called me on the phone very late at night. And, I was the very last person he talked to before he ended his life exactly the way Verne Stevens did.

The tragedy isn't that people commit suicide. The tragedy is that they don't make a call for help.

Call Headquarters: 841-2345 before you make a very big mistake. There are people that care. And, if you feel terribly depressed and just can't seem to get over it, don't ever forget that there are medications that can help.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.