A second Prescott High School student has died from suicide. The first student passed away about three weeks ago.
These tragedies have shaken teens across the region - in all schools, including public, charter and private schools.
The following email was sent out to parents by PHS Principal Totsy McClaren:
I am writing with great sadness to inform you that one of our students has died. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends.
All of the students were given the news of the death this morning. The cause of death was suicide. 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.
Counselors and school psychologists have met with students individually and in groups today and are available over the coming days and weeks. Please contact the school office if you feel your child is in need of additional assistance; we have a list of school and community mental health resources. We have posted information on our school website concerning the warning signs of suicide along with a list of crisis hotlines for you to call if necessary. Additional hot line numbers are:
1. Teen Lifeline---1-800-248-TEEN
2. National Suicide Prevention---1-800-273-8258
3 Warm Line---1-888-404-5530
4. WYGC Crisis Line---445-5211
5. Boys' Town Hotline---1-800-448-3000
We are currently working with West Yavapai Guidance Clinic to present a meeting for parents and others in the community. When that information has been finalized, we will send that to our parents.
Please do not hesitate to contact me or one of the school counselors with any questions or concerns.
Totsy McCraley, Principal
Even administrators in other schools are deeply concerned, as explained by Northpoint Director Geneva Saint-Amour in a letter to parents, "As history shows us that this often hits a community in waves, we are particularly worried about our students being vulnerable to the grief and perhaps their own feelings of hopelessness or depression. Please take any concerns very seriously. We care deeply about our teens and want to assist in any way possible."
Prescott High School has posted a pamplet from West Yavapai Guidance Clinic titled, "Warning Signs of Suicide" on their website.
Among some of the signs listed:
- Talking about suicide
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless or worthless.
- Saying things like, "It would be better if I wasn't here," or, "I want out"
- Worsening depression
- A sudden unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be very happy.
- Taking risks that could lead to death or injury, such as while driving
- Losing interest in things one used to care about
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
- Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends
Also stated in that pamplet: "Be especially concerned if a person is exhibiting any of these warning signs and has attempted suicide in the past. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 20-50% of people who die from suicide have had a previous attempt."
You can download the pamplet here, which also provides information about how to help or intervene if necessary.
Most importantly, don't ignore the signs, and don't wait to get help. Schools have counselors available for the students. Professionals across the community are here to provide assistance.
At eNews, we offer our love and prayers to this teen's family and friends as they struggle to cope with this tragedy.