It has been a difficult several months for one Middle Tennessee community after several teen suicides.
Four Mount Juliet teenagers have taken their own lives over the last 18 months, and 20-year-old Cory Huckaby knew them all.
"It's something that I never really want to see again happen to a friend," Huckaby said.
First, his friend Kasey Coble hanged himself from a neighborhood tree after being bullied at school. Then, about a month later, another of Huckaby's friends laid down on a set of railroad tracks before he was fatally struck.
"That's the first one that really hit me for high school where I was like, 'Wow, death is a real thing,'" Huckaby said.
Suicide is the third-leading cause of death in Tennessee teens and adults ages 15 to 24, and it's the second-leading cause of death among college-aged students.
In 2010, suicides accounted for 932 deaths in Tennessee.
"We don't ever know the cause, but we do know suicide is 100 percent preventable if it's caught in time," said Tara Leurs, director of The Place Teen Center.
Leurs attended funeral after funeral in Mount Juliet and decided to do something for kids who are in a dark and lonely place.
"The kids don't have anywhere to go. They hang out in parking lots and at people's houses," Leurs said.
Along with her husband, Leurs opened The Place, a nonprofit organization that gives teens a place to hang out. It's also a certified Safe Place, where children and teens can go for help.
"Whether it's physical abuse or drug addiction, we have a system in place to immediately get them the help they need," Leurs said.
Right now, The Place only has the funding to stay open on Friday nights, but volunteers like Huckaby are on hand 24 hours a day by phone to help give teens in a desperate place help and hope for their future.
For more information on The Place, visit http://theplacemj.org.
Resources and information for those in need are available from the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network: http://tspn.org/.
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