Vigil, prayer service held after recent student suicides

As communities continue to come together in the wake of several recent student suicides, a vigil was held Sunday night to remember the life of a Coventry High School football player.

“No matter what you’re going through,” said Jack Stover, cousin of the Coventry senior linebacker. “I promise you it’s not worth it.”

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Hundreds gathered at Logan Field Saturday night to share memories, each holding a single candle as prayers and support flooded the field with a specific message from the student’s family and friends.

“That they [kids] matter,” said cousin Rob Boarman. “That just might be what saves them.”

Family members have launched a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses.

About 20 miles south of Logan Field, a church service titled “Pray for Perry” was being held at New Life Tabernacle in Massillon – after six current and former Perry students took their lives since the start of the school year.

“Just to have a night for healing and for hope,” Pastor Keith Blaylock said. “So kids didn’t have to feel like there is no hope. There is somewhere I can go that would be a safe environment.

Dalton Thews, 15, is a member of New Life and is also a sophomore at Perry High School. For him, the prayer service was a chance to open some much-needed dialogue.

“A community coming together gives a sense that ‘everything is going to be okay.’ That even through this people can still come together and form a bond and help each other out, and not just ignore the situation.”

Community meeting and events have been throughout surrounding communities over the past month, with several more planned in the coming weeks:

- Suicide Awareness Seminar (Jan. 31)

- Community Resource Event at Canton Baptist Church (Feb. 1)

- Project Believe: Anti-bullying event (Feb. 8)