Farewell to a Friend: In Memory of Alex Lindstrom

Lily Mosely

From April 2011:

Following the suicide of Alex Lindstrom on February 7 [2011], Chamblee High School students and teachers experienced shockwaves of disbelief, grief and confusion.
The school observed a moment of silence the next morning to respectfully remember one of their own. The media center, open for students all day who felt they could not remain in class, overflowed with mourners. During second period, students shared their memories of Alex with the masses and talked with counselors who were stationed among the chaotic throng.
“I was really shocked and I couldn’t even fathom what had happened for like two days,” sophomore John Mosby said. “I was devastated.”
Reactions to the tragedy were unique and individualistic, ranging from anger to sadness to fear.
“I started crying, it was the scariest thing ever,” Caroline Patterson said. “You don’t ever expect to have that happen to someone close to you.”
Teachers were also confronted with the challenge of dealing with such a heavy matter both personally and professionally.
“He was the first person I’ve ever known who committed suicide,” said tenth-grade English teacher Brett Belcher. “A suicide affects far more people than you would ever think; it has a sort of ripple effect. Everyone in my classes felt the impact of it and I knew they wouldn’t be able to focus [that week], and honestly, I wasn’t ready to teach.”
Veteran teachers, who have taught at Chamblee since the late 1990s, have experienced previous suicides of Chamblee students. As a result, these teachers were able to view the situation with a little more detachment and continued instruction on Tuesday.
“I let my classes choose what they wanted to do, but everyone wanted to get going and think about something else; sometimes you have to let things go so you can at least seek a normalcy,” eleventh-grade Advanced Placement United States History teacher Stevie Rubino said. “I’ve been here [at Chamblee] for a long time, and we’ve been through this before. The older you get the more hard things you see, so you almost become jaded in a way.”
However, to most students the event and its aftermath were surreal. Sophomore class president Chloe Brantley took on others’ grief with leadership and helped to plan events in memory of Alex, such as the candlelight vigil and the white balloon release. She also organized a donation effort to buy flower arrangements for the Lindstrom family and to have them in the church during the funeral. Also, she was instrumental in the ordering and selling of wristbands in remembrance of Alex.
“I found the strength to step up because I had to, but I wanted to at the same time,” Brantley said. “It was my responsibility as class president and I wanted to show people that they chose the right person to lead.”
While the events in memory of Alex were meant to help people cope with their grief and may have been helpful in doing so, they were not intended to glorify suicide or justify it in any way.
“I read his Facebook page every night. The things that people say- how could he not know that [people cared about him],” sophomore Zachary McKoon said (’13). “I get sad because he’s gone, but I also get mad at him because it was really selfish.”
Despite the lasting pain and inexplicable sorrow that has encompassed many of Alex’s friends, an air of connectedness, understanding, and camaraderie settled over Chamblee during the week following his passing.
“The students helped each other more than anyone else could have,” Belcher said. “I think it helped them, and it helped me to see that even in the face of a tragedy, something good came out of it.”