Marcus Wheeler has left us wondering why…


Marcus Wheeler (Andy Morales/

Marcus Wheeler (Andy Morales/

All the signs were there and yet they weren’t. There was a cry for help that was ignored and will forever go unanswered in a world dominated by Twitter and social media.


“what besides beer takes pain away?”

Corona del Sol High School state cross country champion Marcus Wheeler took his own life Tuesday morning near the school’s gymnasium according to Tempe police reports. A school resource officer attempted to talk Wheeler into putting down his handgun but Wheeler shot himself.

May 7:

“and i rock to the beat of my drum set , ive been done for awhile but i aint done yet”

My inbox was full of questions yesterday from runners, parents, coaches and friends asking me if I knew why Wheeler killed himself.

Is there an answer?

How does one inform parents of a death of child? How does one console? How does one explain?

If a word could bring meaning or could relieve pain then we would have discovered it by now but we never will. The life of a child is too precious to be explained away so easily.

May 10:

“life has fallen apart in front of my own eyes and its all my fault”

The world adults live in is full of regrets to be sure but it’s also full of learning experiences, forgiveness, understanding, patience and knowledge. Most of us know there are more important problems down the road. We know others share our pain or at least understand it because they have similar worries.

But a child does not think that way.

A child’s world is often defined by a limited space that surrounds that child. There are no others. You see it best in teen drivers who have yet to realize there are other cars around them doing their own thing. Such is their life.

May 11:

“i want my life 3months ago back”

Thousands of people have “retweeted” Wheeler’s final tweet and even more have “liked” it. I suppose the vast majority of those who retweeted his final cry for help did so after he took his own life yet a few – or even dozens – must have read it beforehand. They must have.

But, again, those cries for help came from someone else. I doubt many if any adults read them.

Wheeler’s twitter feed is full of retweets with rare tweets of his own. There are tweets of typical test anxiety, congratulating fellow runners and complaining about teachers and girlfriends. No sign of what may have happened to convince him there was no other way out.

May 11:


People who have limited understanding of mental issues believe help is always available if you want it. Some have no sympathy for those who hurt themselves.

Of course “we” know Marcus didn’t have a real solution to his problems. But someone did. Having grown up with a brother who suffers from mental illness, I can tell you help is only available if someone offers it without being asked.

According to the Center for Disease Control, “Suicide is a serious public health problem that affects even young people. For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. It results in approximately 4600 lives lost each year.”

Marcus will be forever young in the eyes of his family and time will eventually cause the rest of us to only think of him from time to time until, sadly, he fades away.

But we remember him now. Now is the time to put that memory to good use.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255.

May 12:

“there is going to be a suicide in the school right now”


Marcus died moments later…… Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at


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