MANLIUS, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After losing their loved one to suicide, a father and brother from Manlius are speaking out about their personal tragedy in hopes of raising suicide prevention awareness.

Liam Qi, only 16-years-old, died by suicide on November 1. His death was sudden and a shock for his family.

“I’ll never forget that. It’s kind of burned into my memory. I was just shocked, honestly, and I was wondering why now?”

LUKE QI, BROTHER OF LIAM

Luke Qi remembers his younger brother as kind, earnest and generous. He describes him as the best brother he could have ever had.

“He was so funny. He was nice and gentle, and he was like the ultimate homie,” Luke explained. “I think there’s honestly no one that could say a bad word about Liam because he was just such a caring person.”

Although Liam’s death was a shock, his family knew he was struggling. Liam’s best friend and classmate at Fayetteville-Manlius, Jay Lu (15), took his own life in March.

After months of grappling with his loss and after friends brought Liam’s struggle to his family’s attention, he was able to get professional help.

I knew he was having a tough time since his best friend fell victim to suicide like 6 months earlier. In May, I got a message from one of his close friends that he’s feeling a lot of guilt. He blames himself personally and he just hasn’t moved on. I immediately called my parents and we looked for therapists and it was just very hard. We had a whole list. It was just very hard to get him into a therapist because they’re all booked up.

LUKE QI, BROTHER OF LIAM

Liam was able to get into a therapist in September. His family said he was diagnosed with adjustment disorder with post-traumatic stress from Jay’s death.

“We were like, ‘okay, that seems reasonable,’ but we had no idea it was depression and he was actually having suicidal ideations on the brink of suicide,” Luke said. “That’s why when it happened it was such a shock.”

“We didn’t notice or realize it how severe the situation is until the suicide happened.”

YIWEI QI, FATHER OF LIAM

That’s why Yiwei and Luke are choosing to speak out now in the grips of their grief. Not only are they working to raise awareness about suicide prevention, but how they hope to keep others from ever standing in their shoes.

Help is always out there and you are not alone. If you are feeling whatever you’re feeling, that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. People really do care about you, truly, and your loss will be very, very painful for the loved ones around you. In Liam’s life, he really connected people and I really hope that in his death, he will continue to bring us closer together. Even if you didn’t know Liam, get closer to your loved ones and spend time with them.

LUKE QI, BROTHER OF LIAM

On Monday night, family, friends and members of the community will gather for a candlelight vigil and ceremony to honor and remember Liam Qi.

Details below:

Credit: Luke Qi

The Qi family has been in conversation with current students, parents, community members, and mental health experts. A proposal has been created to improve mental health policies in the F-M district.

The proposal is split into three broad categories: increased accountability, increased community, and increased intervention measures. The Qi family has been in conversation with F-M administration, including Superintendent Dr. Craig Tice, and would like to see immediate action taken.

NewsChannel 9 reached out to Fayetteville-Manlius Superintendent Dr. Craig Tice for comment on Liam Qi’s death by suicide and resources available to F-M students.

Read his full statement below:

The district continues to prioritize the emotional health and well-being of all students and staff members, and provides support in three primary ways: educating, making connections and providing responsive services.

After listening to many parents and students expressing a desire to have more information at their fingertips, the school district published and distributed a “Supporting Students’ Mental Health” brochure to all families and students so that they would have access to this information about school district resources. A copy of that brochure has been attached to this communication for your review and consideration.

To support students, which includes supporting their mental health needs, there are people in the district, and in each school building, that students and their families can connect with for support:

-Each elementary school has a school counselor and school psychologist.

-Each middle school has two school counselors and a school psychologist.

-F-M High School has seven school counselors and a school psychologist.

-There is one districtwide psychologist that supports all schools.

-Six family-school liaisons support all of the buildings. 

In an effort to connect F-M students with emotional support within the local community, the district maintains a mental health provider referral-resource list that is shared with families who request it. The district also partners with mental health care provider Melissa Carman, Ph.D, LMHC, whose practice is located in the village of Manlius.

In July, the F-M Board of Education approved a contract between the district and Contact Community Services. This organization specializes in social and emotional learning and provides training and consultation to support student mental health and wellness. In addition to offering wellness activities and training to the K-12 school community and families, the contract includes providing the district with a full-time mental health educator.

Mental health and Suicide Safety in Schools (SSIS) educator William DeSantis serves F-M full-time. Since the start of this school year, Mr. DeSantis has offered students and families suicide prevention and awareness sessions during the day and evening parent information seminar and or virtual workshops (entitled Mental Health Mondays).

A confidential screening tool that helps track students’ mental health and wellness is currently being administered for middle and high school students (grades 7-12). The Behavior Intervention Monitoring Assessment System-Second Edition, also called the BIMAS-2, asks students to self-report their recent behaviors and emotions.

In-person and virtual workshops focusing on mental health awareness and wellness are offered to Fayetteville-Manlius School District families. During the month of December, the district is offering “Mental Health Mondays” on Dec. 5, 12 and 19. Each virtual session will be led by mental health educator William DeSantis and will focus on topics such as anxiety, depression and suicide prevention.

DR. CRAIG TICE, SUPERINTENDENT OF FAYETTEVILLE-MANLIUS SCHOOLS

In response to requests for more resources, the Fayetteville-Manlius school district began its series of virtual mental health workshops on Monday. Topics of discussion will include anxiety, depression and suicide.

For the first three weeks in December, sessions will be offered to raise awareness about mental health. The first two sessions are open to all F-M parents and guardians only. The last session can include teens 13 and older and their parents.

You can read more about the district’s mental health resources and initiatives by clicking here.

Help is available. If you or someone you know needs to speak with someone, call or text ‘988’ for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Professionals are available 24/7.