High School reacts to suicide

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:22

    Administrators, teachers, and staff reach out to students and families with support, advice SPARTA — A high school sophomore took his own life last Friday. The tragic event sent waves of shock and grief through the high school community, prompting administrators, teachers, and staff to reach out to students and their families offering counseling, support, and important information about suicide. Principal Dennis Tobin sent a letter to all high school parents via email on Sunday, Sept. 18 informing them about the event, saying “We want to take this opportunity to remind our community that suicide is a very complicated act. It is usually caused by a mental disorder such as depression, which can prevent a person from thinking clearly about his or her problems and how to solve them. Sometimes these disorders are not identified or noticed; other times, a person with a disorder will show obvious symptoms or signs.” The information for parents included the following warning signs which may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Experts say the risk is greater if a behavior is new or has recently increased in frequency or intensity, and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself Looking for ways to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain Talking about being a burden to others Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs Acting anxious or agitated, or behaving recklessly Sleeping too little or too much Withdrawing or feeling isolated Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge Displaying extreme mood swings Tobin also included information for parents to help them discuss the suicide with their children, stressing that they provide accurate information about the event and the issue of suicide, such as: “The cause of death was suicide. Suicide is most often caused by serious mental disorders like depression, combined with other complications.” “Individuals who commit suicide are likely struggling with a mental health issue like depression or anxiety, even though it may not have been obvious to other people.” “There are treatments to help people who are having suicidal thoughts.” “Since 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder at the time of their death, it is likely that they suffered from a mental disorder that affected his feelings, thoughts, and ability to think clearly and solve problems in a better way.” “Mental disorders are not something to be ashamed of, and there are very good treatments to help the symptoms go away.” The advice for families also stresses that children should be encouraged to seek help from a trusted adult if they or a friend experience depression or become suicidal. Suggested talking points are: “We are always here to help you through any problem, no matter what. Who are the people you would go to if you or a friend were feeling wor¬ried or depressed or had thoughts of suicide?” “There are effective treatments to help people who have mental disorders or substance abuse problems. Suicide is never an answer.” “This is an important time for all in our school community to support and look out for one another. If you are concerned about a friend, you need to be sure to tell a trusted adult. On Monday morning all high school home room teachers read a letter to their students informing them of their classmate’s death and telling them that counseling will be available to them at any time during the school day, should they need to speak to someone. Students were reminded that the whole community needs to pull together at this time and support one another. The funeral for the student was held Monday and besides family and friends, over 200 high school students also attended.