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13 Minutes

On average suicide takes the life of someone in the United States every 13 minutes and it took the life of teacher Maureen Heads younger brother, Vincent Head.

In+the+United+States%2C+every+13+minutes+on+average%2C+someone+in+the+United+States+takes+their+life.+
In the United States, every 13 minutes on average, someone in the United States takes their life.

In the United States, every 13 minutes on average, someone in the United States takes their life.

Frances Dai

Frances Dai

In the United States, every 13 minutes on average, someone in the United States takes their life.

Tick tock tick tock. 13 minutes and one life is gone. Every 13 minutes, someone takes their life. Every 13 minutes suicide takes the life of someone in the United States. And on July 12, 2006, Vincent Head, the younger brother of science teacher Maureen Head, took his life.

“He was super smart,” Maureen said. “But he didn’t want to work that hard. He would be the kid who got a 32 on his ACT and his GPA would be low . . . He played football when he was in high school until he quit. He liked to play video games and read a lot, … he was super sarcastic.”

Maureen Head
¨So my mom used to take us to the renaissance fair and I remember one year we both had these little swords and . . . we were both wearing mustaches for some reason and that was a lot of fun, that was a fun day.¨ said Maureen Head.

Born on Aug. 7, 1986, Vincent was less than a month away from turning 20.  “He had just broken up with his girlfriend, and I think in addition to that he kinda battled with depression. He had communicated with me and my mom about that and so my mom was trying to find him some counseling or therapy, but it’s hard to get in. So the last time that I saw him, he was just super sad about what had happened with his girlfriend,” recalls at the time 24-year-old, Maureen. “But never in a million years would I have ever guessed, just because he was communicating and talking about how he was feeling bad and he was talking, I would never have guessed that a week later he would be taking the steps that he did.”

And a week later Vincent took his own life. “It was surreal,” she said. “I remember my mom woke me up and she was hysterical. She had gotten a call from his roommate because he was in college. He said, ‘Hey, I’m really worried. Vince left a note and I’m afraid that he’s going to hurt himself.’ At that point it was summertime, so I was home from school. I threw on some clothes and drove to Lincoln, Nebraska which is about an hour from my mom’s house in Omaha. As I was driving, the police had called saying that Vincent had taken his life and that he had died. He had gone to the tallest parking garage in Lincoln and jumped off.”

When we’re young, we’re selfish and we take things for granted, and I totally took him for granted. I would just make sure that he knew that I loved him.”

— Maureen Head

Even after almost 12 years, Maureen says it is still easy to remember him. “But I guess it gets harder in a sense that when you see people his age [or] …when I meet people who are around that age or knowing people around that age it’s like …what would he have done with his life, what could he have done with his life if he had been able to get through that dark time that he had. So I think that’s hard. But I still have all the memories.”

Vincent, Maureen and her mother had moved to Iowa City when Maureen was in fifth grade and Vincent was in kindergarten. Head siblings would spend hours together after school before their mother would come home from work. “Me and my brother would be at home beating each other up, playing video games, not doing our chores. We were close. . . We would go outside and try jumping a creek and I would make [it across] and he would get stuck and I would have to pull him out,” said Maureen.

While attending and playing basketball at Drake University Maureen would come for the holidays to her mother and her brother, who at the time was attending West.

Maureen Head
Pictured is Maureen Head (right) and her younger brother Vincent Head (left).

“I would go home in the summer and he would always have this group of friends that he would play basketball with so I would just tag along with this group of high school boys and go play pickup basketball with them and that was always fun.” said Maureen “I don’t even know how this happened but I think I was taking a break and there were some elementary kid or junior high kids there one time and somehow they convinced my brother and his friends to play against them and so my brother instead of being a really nice guy and a fair and a good role model to these kids, they would go and try to shoot a layup and he would just swat that ball like into the stands or whatever and just talk trash to a bunch of 13-year-olds.”

When Maureen saw her brother for the first time after his death, belief finally hit her. “My brother had these bright blue eyes when he was alive and his eyes were still kinda open,” she said. “They were gray and the life was gone and at that moment I realized my brother died and I’m never going to be able to talk to him again,”

But never in a million years would I have ever guessed, just because he was communicating and talking about how he was feeling bad and he was talking, I would never have guessed that a week later he would be taking the steps that he did.”

— Maureen Head

The August following Vincent’s death Maureen headed back to her graduate program at Baylor University where she had caring professors and friends. Many of her friends had traveled up to Iowa for the funeral. Having a strong support system helped Maureen cope with the loss of a brother, “[They]  allowed me to breathe and talk about it. It was just helpful to know that I had people there that cared about me.”

Maureen and her mother still talk about Vincent. “There’s always something like a song or something at the house or a TV show or a saying that we used to have and it’ll pop up and we’ll say, ‘OMG, do you remember the time you and Vinny were sledding down the stairs on your sleeping bags?’”

If Maureen could say one last thing to her little brother, she would tell him that she loved him. “When we’re young, we’re selfish and we take things for granted, and I totally took him for granted. I would just make sure that he knew that I loved him.”

Every year American foundation for suicide prevention (AFSP) does a walk in Iowa City  at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Center and every year Maureen participates in the walk.“It makes me feel good … I’m not forgetting him and still doing something to … honor his memory and it gives me a chance to tell other people about him.”

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About the Writer
Fatima Kammona, News Editor
Fatima Kammona is a senior at West High. This is her second year on staff and works for the online and print publication as the news editor. When she isn’t at school or extracurricular activities, she enjoys eating and sleeping.
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