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Parent whose son committed suicide speaks to Carbon County group

Published October 16. 2009 05:00PM

It's hard to see your child sad, especially when you have no idea what to do to make things better.

It's even worse when that child takes their sadness one step farther and commits suicide.

During Wednesday's meeting of the Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative Board, members had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by a parent whose son, for years, struggled with depression before taking his own life.

Jim Tkach spoke volumes to the parents and area officials in attendance about the need to get help for children who show signs of depression. Bo suffered from both depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Tkach, who along with his wife Sandi and children Tyler and Tristin started the Bo Tkach Foundation to help raise awareness of these two diseases, began his presentation with a look into his son's struggles and achievements.

"Nobody knew about the darkness inside," Tkach said of Bo's feeling.

Bo was diagnosed with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder at the age of 12.

At the time, the family decided that trying to live life as best they could was the answer, and it was for 13 years.

During Bo's lifetime, he achieved more than most people achieve over the course of their lives, having been a two-time first team All State football player, a two-time District 11 javelin champion, named to ESPNs Academic High School Football All-American team in 2000-2001, and was Most Valuable Male Athlete of Northern Lehigh. The Northern Lehigh High School graduate also volunteered at youth football camps, graduated magna cum laude from Wilkes University, and touched the lives of everyone he met.

Tkach, who is a football coach, talked about the day his son took his own life in July 2007 and how the community's support helped the family through their sadness.

He then changed the tone of the presentation to focus on ways coaches and teachers, as well as parents could help the athletes, students, and children they encounter.

He urged everyone to build relationships with the children because they will be able to notice when a child's personality changes.

He also talked about the Bo Tkach Foundation, whose message has reached coast-to-coast, and talked about the benefits of helping the youth of the country.

Part of the foundation's mission is to provide funding for children and young adults up to the age of 25 who have no insurance or are under insured and need behavioral health evaluations and treatment.

Under the program, young adults who need mental health evaluations but are unable to get an appointment because of the lack of insurance can call the MHMR Intake Unit at (610) 377-0773 or Jamie Drake, treatment program manager at the Carbon-Monroe-Pike Drug and Alcohol Commission at (610) 377-5177 ext. 105.

He ended the presentation with a new song titled "Why," by Rascal Flatts, which talks about the feelings a person has after a friend or family member commits suicide.

"Depression is a disease," Tkach said. "It is not a choice to have it."

For more information on the Bo Tkach Foundation, visit

In other matters, Jeanne Miller, co-chairperson of the Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative, announced an upcoming event that the SHINE program is hosting.

The SHINE program, which helps middle school-aged children in Carbon and Schuylkill counties, will host the Lights On for After School program at 5 p.m., on Oct. 22, in Panther Valley High School. The program, which is open to everyone, will focus on the premier of the new SHINE DVD that was created by the students. The evening will be dedicated to the late Sen. James Rhoades, who was a supporter of the program and passed away last year as a result of a car accident.

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