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Two Young Women’s Suicides, In Close Proximity, Stun and Mobilize Community

| January 21, 2016

Lindsey Brockhaus Cora Ann Engel suicides

Lindsey Brockhaus, 20, left, and Cora Ann Engel, 18, in Facebook self-portraits.

They’d both attended Matanzas High School. They both lived in Palm Coast’s B-Section, just 4,500 feet from each other as the crow flies. They were the closest friends. And within a month, they both killed themselves by the same method: they hung themselves from a tree limb in their backyard.

Cora Ann Engel, 18, died on Dec. 17. She was discovered at the Beechwood Lane property that morning by her brother and two friends, according to a Flagler County Sheriff’s report. The date may not have been entirely coincidental: two years earlier almost to the day, on Dec. 18, Dalton Coxwell, then a 15-year-old freshman at Matanzas, had killed himself by the same method. At the time, it was the first suicide to strike the Matanzas High School community.

On Sunday, Lindsay Brockhaus wrote the following on her Facebook page, referring to her friend Cora: “One month ago, you ran away to heaven. I miss you more than you know.” She posted the note with a link to Copland’s “The Day I Lost My Voice,” a song about running away (“I’ve got my life in a suitcase.”)

Tuesday evening, Brockhaus had hung herself.

Deputies had gone to her Barring Place house that evening to check on her after getting word from Melissa Blackwelder, one of Brockhaus’s friends, who was worried that Brockhaus might hurt herself—and in fact may have tried to harm herself the day before, according to an incident report. Blackwelder relayed to authorities that “she had a feeling that Lindsey might try and harm herself because Lindsey was having a tough time dealing with the recent loss of their friend,” Cora Engel.

Deputies investigated the scene in the presence of two of Brockhaus’s friends, 18 and 20, both residents of Palm Coast. Blackwelder had stayed with Brockhaus the night of the 18th then dropped her off at work at Ace Hardware in St. Joe’s Plaza at around noon on Tuesday, when Brockhaus told her she was fine. It was the last time she’d seen her.

When deputies got permission to enter Brockhaus’s house from her father, they saw no foul play, only music playing in her bedroom, and a light left on in the living room. Her room was left untouched, with only her cell phone taken into evidence to check Facebook posts Brockhaus had made before her death.

News of the suicide by Wednesday was rippling through social media and the Matanzas high school community, alerting school officials to respond.

“I first learned about the loss of Lindsey yesterday morning,” Colleen Conklin, who chairs the school board, said. Just weeks before the death of Dalton Coxwell in 2013, Conklin had led two virtual town hall meetings, both well attended, to draw attention to bullying and teen suicide in the wake of the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedgwick, the Lakeland student who’d been bullied at school.

“I was contacted by Dalton Coxwell’s mom, Barbara, and told that we lost another child and can’t we do something about it,” Conklin said. “Barbara and I have stayed in contact since the loss of her son. She joined me for the virtual town hall meeting to share her experience with parents and teens. She is an exceptionally brave woman. We spent sometime talking on the phone and agreed to work on putting something together to raise awareness.”

In the school district, Lynette Shott, who heads student and community services, and Tracy Umpenhour, who heads exceptional student education, have been working with Matanzas faculty and staff to provide counseling services to students, staff and past graduates.

“We recognize this is a larger community issue. It’s my hope that we can reach out to the mental health professionals in the community and possibly beyond to assist with putting together a community wide plan for tackling this issue,” Conklin said. “There needs to be a shared understanding of suicide and suicide prevention. We need to closely examine our mental health infrastructure as a community and ensure that one exists to support suicide prevention. Young people need to know help is available and that anything they are dealing with is temporary and that suicide is something that can never be taken back. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

Online and through social media, current and former students, friends of both young women, spoke of their grief in innumerable ways, often at a loss for words. “It’s too overwhelming for me to deal with this about Lindsey Brockhaus right now,” one wrote, “so please if everyone can just stop asking me what happened. I appreciate everyone’s messages and condolences about her and Cora Engel but I don’t even know how to deal with any of this right now.”

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18 Responses for “Two Young Women’s Suicides, In Close Proximity, Stun and Mobilize Community”

  1. Harold says:

    Two beautiful young women ! Absolutely a terrible tragedy for this to happen. I don’t understand WHY they took their young lives.

  2. so sad says:

    We need to help these children! it doesn’t always end up being a case about bullying. These kids are suffering and ANYTHING can be the cause!

  3. Merrill Shapiro says:

    Even the angels that surround the Heavenly throne shed tears at a time like this. What are we doing wrong that leads to this use of a permanent “solution” to what we know to be a temporary problem? How can we make a world, a community, in which this never happens again?

    To be responsible, and I hate having to ask this question, we must ask if there are questions about sexual orientation here? There are dark forces in our community, hell bent on making sure all those created by the Almighty with sexual orientations that are not normative heterosexuals know that they are “evil, aberrant, deviant” We cannot allow these dark forces to continue but rather we must shout from our rooftops that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation are precious, dear, valuable and important to our community!

    May the families of these beautiful young people find solace and comfort in this time of deepest grief! Let us remember these precious teens through our efforts to form a more perfect community!

  4. Outsider says:

    This is just awful. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these young women, and Dalton’s family as well. While I have no idea why these young people were so lost, I make sure my daughters have a passion to pursue and their lives don’t revolve around boyfriends. Eventually, boyfriends and girlfriends go away, and if that’s all one has in his or her life then it can seem like life is over, when in fact it should be another lesson in learning to deal with life’s disappointments. If you have a passion to pursue, you will always have that no matter who is around you. In the darkest hours, keep faith that life will get better, and give the future a chance to prove it; it has always worked for me.

  5. Veteran says:

    When I was in high school in the 60’s this did not happen. Suicides are way up all over. We need to ask why!

  6. trauma victim says:

    I hope Matanzas gets their act together now. As someone who has struggled with the dark thoughts the two young women lost their lives to, this breaks my heart. Start taking the mental health of your students seriously, and BEFORE your students take their lives, not AFTER.


    No one is teaching our young people that there is more than the moment.

    No one impresses upon them — and often enough and early enough — that there are things bigger than themselves. No one tells them that life has its peaks and valleys and that neither lasts forever. Instead they are taught to go with the moment, do what feels right to them, regardless of how it might affect others.

    So when a moment is crushing, psychologically, they have nothing to fall back on and feel like the moment will last forever. And the pain of that moment is not something they want to endure forever. The only solution they see is to make forever the shortest time possible.

  8. Concerned says:

    The fact of the matter is that this beautiful soul is gone. And while she now sits in a place of light and happiness, yes in heaven if you wish to call it that, she will be missed. I knew Lindsey as one of her high school teachers. She was a beautiful soul who will continue to shine through the veil for those who were fortunate to know her irregardless of asexual orientation, color, race or anything else for that matter. Shine on Lindsey Brickhouse, you will be missed but never forgotten. Until we meet again.

  9. SEVERE Depression says:

    This is crazy these two young women are so beautiful but depression is a serious thing i have been going through it for 6 years i wish i could have reached out to these two before they did this..

  10. Glooby Gloob says:

    In any discussion about mental health, there needs to be a closer examination of the psychiatric drugs, if any, these kids are being prescribed. The elephant in the room is that sometimes, the drugs do more harm than good. That’s why the manufacturers have to put warning labels on them that they might cause “suicidal ideation,” because patterns have emerged. I’m not saying that that’s the case here, and it’s a very sad story, but often when psychiatric drugs were a factor, it never comes out due to the family wanting to keep things private, which is understandable.

  11. tita says:

    supports mental health do not work, parents do not receive immediate help when they ask for help shouting hopefully soon resulva this situation is not to regret lost children

  12. Tiffany says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about lindseys death along with coras counting Daltons from a couple years ago. I’ve suffered from depression and I know how it feels. I can’t imagine how it feels to lose a daughter, a close friend. My condolences go out to her family and friends. Cora, Lindsey and Dalton are watching over us. They’re our guardian angels. ❤ Rest in peace❤

  13. Sheila Skipp Zinkerman says:

    To help comprehend suicide read:
    Night Falls Fast – understanding suicide
    Author: Kay Redfield Jamison

  14. r&r says:

    Were drugs involved? If so think about the present debate to legalize pot..

  15. mary says:

    It is just a time in a young girl’s life where friends are so important, especially their bestie. Some girls and boys don’t know how to handle hormones etc. at that age. We all know that communication is key, except that some people don’t have the family that communicates. She may have thought she was going to see her bestie. That is the only thing that seems obvious here.
    Please urge your teenagers to talk. This is quite a miscommunication.

  16. Anonymous says:

    So very sorry to read this. I wish peace and comfort to all who knew this beautiful young woman.

  17. Jay says:

    The first thing that needs to be investigated and addressed is the mental health of the people that are doing the bullying These people are sick and a disgrace to humanity. At that young age, people are very sensitive and unable to cope with bullying and rejection.

  18. Kween Kleokatra says:

    First condolences to the family & friends.

    Second to reply to Harold Two beautiful young women ! Absolutely a terrible tragedy for this to happen. I don’t understand WHY they took their young lives….

    This is why these things are happening…because “we don’t understand”, yet we impute to these poor souls with what we “think”. There is another way…it’s just we’re too set in our ways to think out of the box and take it.

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