Mourners talk suicide at funeral of Brampton teen

The Peel District School Board is rolling out a program to address teen suicide, as one Brampton high school copes with its third student suicide since the school year began.

Caylen Millben, 17, third suicide at Brampton high school since September

Caylen Millben, 17, was the third student at Sandalwood Heights Secondary School to commit suicide during this school year. (CBC)

Teachers, friends and classmates said goodbye to a 17-year-old Brampton student on Thursday as the school copes with its third suicide since September. 

Classmates from Sandalwood Heights Secondary School arrived by the busload at the morning service to mourn Grade 12 student Caylen Millben at his funeral. He killed himself Friday.

Millben, 17, was remembered as a popular kid and a student leader who was involved in sports and at the Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church, where his father is a pastor and where the funeral was held.

Caylen was also a peer counsellor.

His best friend, Daniel Brown, said no one saw it coming.

"I told him about all my problems," Brown said. "And he helped me through it. It's hard, you know? Because … why didn't he talk to you?"

'It doesn't make sense'

Last November, it was 18-year-old James Akinremi, a star athlete, who was looking forward to playing college football. Then in January, it happened again with another student.

"Three times in one year, it doesn't make sense," said student Brandon Sackey, who was friends with Caylen and one of the other students who took his own life. 

Sackey said some of the older students are reaching out to younger ones to encourage them not to keep negative feelings bottled up.

Millben's father, Corey Millben, has been very open about his son's death in an effort to get students talking about a taboo subject.

During the funeral service, Caylen's brother Antoine spoke passionately about the need to bring issues of teen mental health out in the open.

"It's not the way to go, so hopefully some young people see this, are affected by it, and live for it," he said outside the service.

The Peel District School Board is responding to the suicides.

Every class at Sandalwood Heights Secondary School will have lesson plans addressing teen mental health and suicide prevention.

Jim Van Buskirk, the school board's chief social worker, said the goal is to address students in classrooms, where they feel comfortable because of the smaller environment. 

Educators from Sandalwood will take part in workshops to go over those lesson plans and to keep the conversation about mental health open.