A memorial service was held Thursday for former Haines student Alden Christian Hamilton, 15, who took his own life in Seward on Jan. 21.
Hamilton attended school here through fourth grade.
In a phone interview, father Scott Hamilton said his son, a Seward High School freshman, had recently been ill and had fallen behind in schoolwork.
"At this age, all you can see is your own little world. It was like a wave knocked him over at the beach, and he couldn't get back up and he drowned," Hamilton said.
Hamilton said his son was a gifted child who was involved in the teen center, school debate team and deejaying, and was starting a mountain bike club. He delivered newspapers and shoveled snow for seniors.
Hamilton said he was hoping his son's death would be a lesson to young people and adults about the importance of communication. "People say, 'If a kid who had all that Alden had going could take his life, what chance (do other kids) have?' The difference is they have a chance to ask for help. Alden no longer has that chance."
"We need to teach kids that when bad things happen, that's life. The appropriate response is to ask for help and talk to other people. His problem was he wasn't able to quantify what was happening to him," Hamilton said.
Hamilton said it was important for adults to let young people know they can approach adults about their difficulties. "Not every kid has a church or family for support, but they need to talk to someone."
Hamilton is survived by his parents Scott and Jan Hamilton, his older sister Maarit, and his older brother Blake. Friends and former classmates in Haines attended a memorial service for Hamilton Thursday at the Haines Presbyterian Church.
Messages of support and condolences to the family may be mailed to: P.O. Box 3265, Seward, AK, 99664.