Daron Richardson was a child you’ve never heard of.
Daron was 14. She played hockey, she had friends, she got good grades, she had a bright smile.
Last weekend, Daron was at her home when something caused her to go in to the basement, put a rope around her neck and hang herself.
When her mother found her, she was still alive, but only barely, only enough to donate her organs.
Daron’s father is Luke Richardson, assistant coach for the Ottawa Senators.
When Daron died, her parents Luke and Stephanie made a very public announcement. Her daughter took her own life. She donated her organs as her last act of kindness. And by telling everyone what happened, they want to raise awareness. In their moment of unimaginable grief, they hope that by speaking out, another family will not have to go through what they are going through.
Today, 10,000 people went to Scotiabank Place, the home of the Senators, to celebrate Daron’s life. The entire Senators team returned in the middle of their road trip to attend the service before flying back to Carolina for a game tonight, their game-readiness well down on the list of priorities.
With the news of so many suicides of gay teens, a project called It Gets Better has been getting lots of traction on the internet. Those of us who were teenagers once all too well remember how tough it was. How everything seemed like the end of the world.
For this girl, something was the end of her world.
Every child should know: It does get better.
This post isn’t really about sports, except for the fact that Daron’s father works for the Senators, and this puts him in a very public position. I cannot imagine their grief. I cannot imagine what I can possibly do to protect, nurture and teach my own child. I cannot imagine.
But at least, at the very least, by making Daron’s death so public, maybe the issue of youth mental health can get more notice. Maybe because Daron’s parents used their voices to reach out to us in their grief, maybe another child can be saved from the same fate.
I can only hope. Desperately hope.
Donations in Daron’s memory can be made to the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health youth program.