Questions outnumber answers in Bischof's death

May 09, 2004|by MARK KELLER

Once spring rolls around, it's perfectly normal for high school seniors to start looking forward to breaking free of the chains that have bound them for so long - yes, the education system.

Graduation day is like Independence Day for those in 12th grade. Those of us who've been there remember it well. You're so ready to put the daily grind of high school behind you that you can't see how easy you really have it.

The seniors at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg, Pa., haven't had it so easy the last 10 days, though, and that group of students is probably thinking that its Independence Day can't get here soon enough.

The Harrisburg-area school was shaken at the news that Corey Bischof, a three-year starter on the varsity football team, had been reported missing April 29. Two days later, in a wooded area behind a church, Bischof was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.


Bischof apparently had everything going for him that the stereotype of a high school quarterback should: Good-looking, very popular, lots of friends.

He was, by all accounts, an outstanding football player. Being a three-year starter at Cumberland Valley is the high school equivalent of being a three-year starter at an elite Division I university.

He was well known to fans in Southcentral Pennsylvania, particularly in Chambersburg. Last fall, Bischof led Cumberland Valley to a 47-0 win over the Trojans, completing 8 of 10 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown.

Bischof was set to play football at LaSalle University in the fall. He had plans to attend the senior prom with his girlfriend Friday.

"He always seemed to be smiling and happy in the halls," CV junior Samantha Crider told The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News.

All of that leaves everyone with the one simple question to which there is no simple answer: Why?

Why does a kid who seemingly has it all together suddenly give it all away?

Why does an 18-year-old with a bright future awaiting him in college tunnel his vision so that he can't see his way around an obstacle?

Why does anyone think that suicide solves more problems than it creates?

The answer to the first two "whys?" will likely never be known. Bischof's family and friends have said there were no warning signs or any apparent reason the young man would even consider the actions he took.

There's probably no real answer to the third "why?" either, but there are undoubtedly more problems that are created by suicide than are solved - the most prevalent being the friends and loved ones left behind asking "why?"

Bischof had his reasons for taking his own life, though even if those reasons come to light, they'll never be fully understood. Every student - every human being - deals with pressures that sometimes feel like they will be too much too handle.

The students at Cumberland Valley are dealing with all of the pressures they had before, but now have the loss of a friend and classmate to cope with on top of it all.

But what those students will find in working through those pressures, troubling times and emotions is a strength that can't be gained from any kind of weight training or workout.

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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