This week’s suicide of a Carencro High School student has impacted many beyond the grounds of the school’s campus.
A tragedy like this is different for everyone, whether you know the person well or never met them in your life, you could still be grieving.
Chief Administrative Officer of the LPSS, Joe Craig, says it is their job to take a time that is unlike any other and make it normal again.
“Anytime you lose a student and under these circumstances, it’s just a total tragedy,” says Craig.
Craig says the first decision made after a tragedy like this is to mobilize student services like school counselors, sociologists, and social workers.
“So that those folks can stay available to first deal with the kids being most directly impacted by this,” says Craig.
Craig says there is no specific protocol or set of guidelines for high schools to follow when a student takes their own life.
Every case deserves it’s own separate thought process based on the circumstances.
“Try to make the best course of action so that the kids can remember that student but we also try to keep instruction going and try to help the parents work through this time,” says Craig.
LPSS sends all possible resources to a school that has suffered from a student suicide.
He says that assistance is in place now at Carencro.”We meet with the kids. We have an opportunity for them to leave class without penalty so that they can grieve with each other,” says Craig.
Barney Lejeune, executive director of Jacob Crouch Suicide Prevention Services says there are warning signs of suicide.
Talking about suicide – Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead.”
Getting affairs in order – Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
Saying goodbye – Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
Withdrawing from others – Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
Self-destructive behavior – Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”
Seeking out lethal means – Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Preoccupation with death – Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
No hope for the future – Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out”). Belief that things will never get better or change.
Self-loathing, self-hatred – Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me”).
Sudden sense of calm – A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.
Lejeune says there are common misconceptions about suicide.
Myth: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.
Fact: Almost everyone who attempts suicide has given a clue or warning usually within a week of their death. We must never ignore even indirect references to death or suicide. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said, may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
Myth: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.
Fact: Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They may be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.
Myth: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.
Fact: Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they simply want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.
Myth: People who die by suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.
Fact: Studies of suicide victims have proven that more than half has sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.
Myth: Confronting a person about suicide will only make them angry and increase the risk of suicide.
Fact: Asking someone directly about suicidal intent lowers anxiety, opens up communication and lowers the risk of an impulsive act.
For more information, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.