Teen's suicide affects entire West Richland community

Teen's suicide affects entire West Richland community »Play Video

WEST RICHLAND, Wash. -- It is our policy that we do not report on suicides, but, as a newsroom, we decided the gravity of this situation and the unusual nature of the case warranted coverage.

Police say 13-year old Kayden Burns from West Richland shot and killed himself Saturday night. He was an 8th grader at Enterprise Middle School. Family members and fire personnel tried to save his life, but it was too late.  His death was officially ruled a suicide by the Benton County Coroner, John Hansen.

The school sent home a letter with kids to inform their families about the situation. In the letter, Kayden was described as a friend to many students and involved in athletics and activities. It says, "His ever-present smile and positive attitude made him a joy to be around."

KEPR spoke with a parent of an Enterprise Middle School student who says her daughter was friends with the young boy. After a text circulated over the weekend about their lost classmate, they all agreed to wear gray to school on Monday in honor of him. Yvonne Storaci didn't want to go on camera because her emotions were running too high, but she did want to share the following message.

"After the shock of the text, Courtney and I had a conversation about how everyone's life has value. The students at Enterprise value their friend's life and wanted to show that outwardly while they are grieving for the loss of a friend and classmate. I cannot comment on how this affects each person, but know that it does affect everyone at the school. It is important for the students to have a time of grieving and to acknowledge that their friend and classmate is gone. I think paying tribute to their classmate by wearing gray today helps them in the healing process. It also directs their focus on doing something positive in this student's memory and not so much on the tragedy. I think Enterprise has a great group of students and staff who will focus on positively remembering the student's life and the value of it. I know my daughter has nothing but compassion for this family, and compassion is what brings us all closer together and that is what the students are doing."

"Whenever a school loses a student like this, it's hard on the whole school environment," said West Richland Schools spokesman Steve Aagaard. "So you have students dealing with this, you have staff dealing with this, you might have students at a former school dealing with it, so it even spreads beyond the immediate school, so it makes it a tough situation for the Enterprise family out there."

The school wants to assure parents that help is always being offered to their kids, even if it's weeks or months down the road.

The family told investigators they did not want to be contacted by any news outlets. KEPR is respecting their wishes.  Police have not said how Kayden accessed the gun.

A fundraiser has been started for Kayden. If you would like to help supposed the West Richland family cover funeral costs, click here.