Our little town of Dacula, Georgia has experienced three tragic deaths of young people, in the span of about nine days. There is much shock and grief among those in this community, and our hearts go out to the families left behind by these horrifying events.
A couple of weeks ago, Dacula High School and the town was rocked by the news of the shocking suicide of a wonderful young lady, Skylar Byrd, who was a junior at the school. At the end of school one afternoon, “Sky” as she was called, entered the large gymnasium, walked to the top of the mezzanine level, and threw herself off onto the basketball court below, ending her life in full view of several operations staff members. News of this spread like wildfire across the community that day and the next.
It has been discovered that Sky has not had her father present for some years, that her mother died about five years ago, and she was being raised by an aunt and uncle. She apparently was targeted and bullied by a group of “mean girls” at the school, and had few friends. What happened in a beautiful young teen’s life, that would convince her life was not worth living, and drive her to end it so shockingly? Surely, these factors played a role, as well as just that evil, whispering voice of the enemy that says, “You have no hope, so just end it.” Teaching high schoolers myself in a private academy, her tragedy struck close to the heart.
Then, last Friday morning while I was sharing breakfast up town with a couple of friends, a tragic accident happened within view of the restaurant. Two brothers, Jared and Jaison Brown, were driving to school, and crossed traffic in front of an oncoming vehicle, which t-boned and drove their car over into a roadside ditch. Jared, the older brother, was killed almost instantly, and Jaison was pronounced dead the next morning. Dacula’s Friday night football game against Archer was postponed to Saturday, and a memorial was observed at the game as both teams paused to remember and pay tribute to the students Dacula had lost.
These tragedies have shocked our community unlike many in recent memory. Questions arise as to what could have done to reach out to Skylar and prevent her suicide. The death of the Brown brothers has reminded everyone how fragile and fleeting life is, and to extend love and grace to all those we cross paths with in the course of a day. We never know when it may be our last- or theirs.
As Christ-followers, it is our moral and spiritual obligation to be the “hands and feet of Jesus” with any and all we meet and connect with. Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to Me.” (read Matthew 25:31-46)