A Suicide at Twelve

A Suicide at Twelve: 'Why, Steve?"* By Richard E. Meyer
He lived to be almost thirteen. Walnut eyes. Brown thatch. Boy Scout. Altar boy. He grew up in white, middle-class America. He played football, and he played baseball. His mother, father, two brothers, and sister loved him. On the fourth day of the eleventh month of his twelfth year, a sunny afternoon in suburban Cincinnati, he walked down his favorite trail in the woods behind his house, climbed a tree, knotted a rope, and hanged himself.
Why, Steve?
In the past year, at least 210 others as young as Steve Dailey killed themselves in the United States. Reported suicides among the very young have more than doubled in twenty years. Even adjusted for population growth, the rate has climbed. The story of Steve Dailey, all-American boy, is an American tragedy: a story about the good life and the possibilities it offers for hidden pressure, subtle loneliness, quiet frustration-- and unanswered questions.
Why, Steve?
Steven Dailey was born July 30, 1961, in the Cincinnati suburb of Clifton. One month after his first birthday, his parents, Sue and Charles Dailey, presented him with a brother, Mike. The two boys would become good friends. When Steve was two or a little older, Grandpa Rafton, in charge of the tailors at MacGregor, the sporting goods company which made uniforms for the Cincinnati Reds, presented Steve and Mike with baseball uniforms of their own, cut in the Reds' own patterns from the Reds' own cloth. Steve's had pitcher Jimmy O'Toole's old number, 31, sewn on the back.
Almost from the day he was married, Charles Dailey worked with Boy Scouts, first as an assistant scoutmaster for a year, then as a scoutmaster for five. When Steve and Mike were still toddlers, he took them along to Scout meetings. One night, he told a meeting of Scout parents: "You know, these boys are growing up awfully fast. If you're ever going to get to know your sons, you better get to know them now--because soon they're...