Teen suicide-prevention advocate dies in Thanksgiving crash on Simco Road

After considering suicide in 2016, Talon Owens became a suicide-prevention advocate, speaking about his experience at several public events.
After considering suicide in 2016, Talon Owens became a suicide-prevention advocate, speaking about his experience at several public events. doswald@idahostatesman.com

A 17-year-old Boise boy who was driving his younger sisters to their aunt’s house for Thanksgiving dinner died when his car crashed west of Mountain Home.

Talon Owens, who drew attention last year when he shared publicly his story about recovering from a suicide attempt, was headed south shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday on Simco Road in a 1998 Toyota convertible when he drove off the right shoulder, overcorrected, rolled and was ejected, the Idaho State Police said.

Owens died three hours later as a result of his blunt-force trauma after being taken by air ambulance to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, the Ada County coroner said.

He was not wearing his seat belt, his mother, Tawnia Owens, told the Idaho Statesman. His sisters wore theirs: Ciaira, 14, felt nauseated last night and may have suffered a concussion, and Graicyn, 12, suffered a broken arm, Mrs. Owens said.

“I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve gotten from friends of his saying that when they were down, Talon was always there to lift them up,” she said. “People said that when he shared his story, he brought them hope and changed their lives. He touched so many people.”

In October 2016, after sharing his story with the Statesman, Owens spoke in front of his Borah High School classmates about how he had planned to take his life by jumping from the eighth story of a Downtown Boise parking garage.

Talon Owens talks about positive feedback he received from Borah students after a Statesman story revealed his brush with suicide.

Afterward, more than a dozen students told Talon their own struggles. “They told me stuff they’d done — self-harm that led to attempting suicide, popping pills, stuff like that,” he said.

Owens also went before other forums, including an event hosted by Story Story Night, a Boise nonprofit. “Talon was really composed,” Jodi Eichelberger, artistic director, said last year. “He said that, as a result of his experience, he wants to be an advocate for teen suicide prevention.”

Toxicology reports are pending and may take several weeks, said Coroner Dotti Owens (no relation to Talon or his family).

Tawnia Owens said she suspects her son was driving too fast for conditions and failed to anticipate the curve. She said he was in good mental health — “not suicidal, for sure.”

The children were looking forward to getting together with their father, Jason Owens, and their grandmother for the holiday, Mrs. Owens said.

Simco Road was blocked for about three hours, according to ISP. The agency is still investigating.

Funeral arrangements are pending. The family has created a GoFundMe page seeking donations to help defray costs.

Statesman editors Jason Lantz and Christina Lords contributed. David Staats: 208-377-6417, @DavidStaats