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The football field at Empire is just weeks away from seeing Friday nights with games and togetherness. Before those healing nights the community must come together after a suicide on campus left everyone shaken.

Dealing with the pain of the unexpected

Suicide on campus shakes community, school of Empire

EMPIRE  A group of football coaches were getting ready for what they thought would be a regular Monday of summer work at the field house.

But nothing about July 14, or the days since at Empire High School, have been normal.

Offensive coordinator Stefan Hunt walked into the building that day and met a tragic scene, discovering the body of a former Empire student and football player who committed suicide there two days earlier. Temperatures at the time reached highs near 100 degrees, and the field house was without ventilation or air conditioning.

Coaches notified authorities immediately. It marked the first of many distressing hours over the next two weeks within the small community resting southwest of Duncan.

"This is the worst experience I've ever had as a head coach," Empire football coach and athletic director Tony Roberts said. "You never expect facing something like this."

There has been much grieving for the former student, whose name his family requested not be published. Friends and classmates worked to help raise money to pay for the funeral, while trying to cope with the tragedy themselves.

Roberts still experiences his share of emotions. He and his wife, Empire principal Jodie Roberts, were close with the teen. At 5:38 a.m. the morning of his suicide, he called coach Roberts and left him a voicemail.

The Lawton Constitution

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