Sammamish sees alarming rate of teen suicide, drunk driving

SAMMAMISH, Wash. -- As many as 1,000 concerned Sammamish parents will gather Monday night for a community meeting to discuss why their teenagers are so troubled.

Two big issues set the meeting in motion. The first is the alarming teenage suicide rate in Sammamish, and the second is high number of kids who are drinking or drugging and then getting behind the wheel of a car.

Local police first spotted the DUI trend and say it has stayed consistent for years.

"I think they probably think they are cooler if they drive behind the wheel drunk because then they can go to school and brag about it but I don't know," said skateboarder Daniel Dunham.

There's concern the area's affluence may be part of the problem, mixing busy parents and children with too much disposable income and spare time.

"Maybe people are trying to prove themselves to their friends, or it's like peer pressure. Kids are young, they make stupid decisions," said Ryan Kennedy.

There's also the high suicide rate, which seems out of line for a city the size of Sammamish.

"We've just had this rash of teen suicides in our community. We've had four in this community in this last year," said pastor Jeff Lancicome.

Lancicome said the trends are headed in a direction the community doesn't want to go, and he's organizing a Monday night meeting for parents to get to the heart of the problems and find solutions.

Police are doing what they can, including a recent sting that caught seven stores selling alcohol to minors. Safeway racked up its first offense, but Rite Aid and a local restaurant recorded their second citations in as many years,.

"If we're going to be a community that cares and loves our kids, which we want to be, we need to come together and figure out what's going on," Lancicome said.

The meeting, which is free and open to the public, will also include a nationally recognized expert on teen issues. It starts at 7 p.m. At the Sammamish Teen Center.