GIBSONIA (KDKA) — Dan and Molly Rupprect dropped the ceremonial first puck at center ice in memory of their daughter Maura.
The Deer Lakes Hockey Club held its inaugural Maura Rupprect Alumni Hockey Game to raise money to improve mental health awareness and suicide prevention at Frozen Pond Arena.
Maura Rupprect was a 16-year-old sophomore who loved hockey.
She died by suicide last February.
“I think her situation there were signs her friends probably saw but they just didn’t know what to do with it,” said Pietro Porco, president of Deer Lakes Hockey Club.
Maura Rupprect was one of two Deer Lakes students who died by suicide since 2018 and they are not alone.
According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 34.
“Any are too much, we will do everything we possibly can to prevent things of that nature from happening,” said Janell Luge-Belden, Deer Lakes Superintendent.
Ryan Klingensmith was one of several mental health counselors attending the event. He said teenagers need to know that someone really cares.
“We have to offer hope, we have to look at them and say, ‘Let’s talk about this, let’s figure out the right person to get you and you are not alone,’” he said.
Cynthia Vaca with Star Clinic said they should also be aware of what’s available.
“Teenagers don’t know what’s out there for them, how to help themselves with this stuff,” she said. “It’s very important to let everybody know we’re here and what we can do for them.”
Meanwhile, the FCC has approved a new “988” emergency suicide prevention hotline number for teenagers in crisis.
Klingensmith believes the new 988 number will be helpful.
“Trying to remember the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is pretty long,” he said. “But remembering 988 is going to be really easy.”
The new 988 number is expected to help teens at risk get the services they need much faster.