WUFT News

Clay County Schools Reassessing Suicide Prevention Resources

By on April 18th, 2014
Grief counselors were sent to Keystone Heights Junior/Senior High School, 900 Orchid Ave., in Keystone Heights. Clay County School District is undertaking measures to improve their suicide prevention and intervention methods.

Photo courtesy of the Clay County Schools

Grief counselors were sent to Keystone Heights Junior/Senior High School. Clay County School District wants to improve suicide prevention and intervention methods.

In light of a recent string of teen suicides, Clay County residents and officials are taking a second look at the resources available to prevent future tragedies.

The county experienced three student suicides this year: two in February and one in March. According to data provided by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, two student suicides also took place in both 2011 and 2013.

Two of the three suicides were Keystone Heights Junior/Senior High School students. On April 11, another Keystone student was killed when he was hit by a truck on his way to the bus stop.

“It’s just been a tough couple of months districtwide,” said Gavin Rollins, Clay County School District spokesperson.

To help students cope, a team of grief counselors was sent to Keystone. Another team visited Middleburg High School, where the first of the three teens who committed suicide attended.

Rollins said the district plans to give school personnel additional training on how to detect warning signs in students.

“We’ve always had resources available for suicide prevention, but I think we’re taking a more proactive, holistic look at our programs and ensuring we’re doing everything we can,” Rollins said.

The district is working with Melissa Witmeier, project coordinator for the Florida Suicide Prevention Project, to implement a new program.

 

Witmeier is helping train staff in QPR, a suicide prevention and intervention response program that stands for Question, Persuade, Refer.

“Our plan is to identify the instructors and get them certified,” Witmeier said. “Then mentor them over the summer, so that when school starts, we’ll be able to put into place the training for the faculty and staff.”

Right now, it’s important to give the community time to grieve, which she said could take months.

“A lot of times people feel like they missed something, and we would never want people to feel guilty or blame themselves,” she said. “This is a time where we talk a lot about helping people and teaching them that there are resources out there in the community.”

Parents are also getting involved.

Betsy Condon, whose son is a freshman at Keystone, organized a parent education night focused on suicide-prevention for May 1 to discuss the issue.

“I’m doing this as a concerned parent. I want to know what I should be looking for,” she said.

Condon said Stephanie Jallen, a psychiatrist at the University of Florida who focuses on children and adolescents, will give a talk at the education night at Keystone.  Jallen will speak to parents about how to recognize when a behavior is normal and when it’s a sign of something more serious.

“Parents are concerned because they want to be more involved with their kids,” Condon said. “They want to be better informed on the struggles and challenges our teenagers are facing.”

Rollins said it’s important for parents to take steps like these to ensure their children’s safety.

“The biggest message we want communicated out there is that there are resources available,” Rollins said. “No one has to go at this alone.”


This entry was posted in Health and Science and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Ocean Sprayz

    Since our minds develop along with the culture in which we grow up, we tend to be ignorant of the unseen history of the customs we practice.

  • AFSP Florida First Coast

    Join the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Florida Suicide prevention Coalition, Mandarin Counseling and Wellness center and Clay County Behavioral Health TOMORROW April 24 at the Dye-Clay family YMCA for an evening of healing and dialogue on understanding and preventing suicide in the community.

  • Bob Stauskas

    Since we tend to hear about scientific advances, we tend to remember intellectual freedom while forgetting about the freedom to do things.

 

More Stories in Health and Science

Jessica Grobman, born HIV-positive, said she believes better sex education in Florida schools would help children grow up safer and healthier. “If education was just more encouraged, it definitely could be a great outcome,” she said.  Photo courtesy of Jessica Grobman.

HIV Positive Student Advocates Comprehensive Sex Education

Jessica Grobman was born with HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus. But it was not until she learned about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in middle school that she began to understand she was different.


FTN-feature

UF Graduate Students Offer Free Therapy To Those In Need

Volunteer graduate students studying clinical health psychology staff the Free Therapy Night clinic at Gainesville Community Ministry. The equal access clinic focuses specifically on mental health.


UF_Shands

UF Health Shands Hospital Responds To Mold Discovery In North Tower

After a complaint from a cancer patient, UF Health Shands Hospital has removed mold from three patient rooms in the hospital’s north tower.


Selena Sattler searches for the grade of her favorite fast food location on What the Health. The app was recently released in Florida, allowing users quick access to local restaurant grades based on health inspections.

Mobile App Offers Restaurant Health Inspection Grades

An app called What the Health offers users instant access to health inspection data for restaurants in the area. Launched in Florida on Jan. 26, the app assigns letter grades for restaurants based on county health inspection findings.


Chris “Boris” Marhefka and Carlee Daylor prepare meals to be delivered to members for the week.
Eat The 80 recently launched a Facebook campaign that helped raise $3,000 worth of meals to help families undergoing cancer treatment.

Meal Delivery Program To Help Families In Need

At the end of its one-week campaign, Eat The 80 raised $3,000 for meals to give away to families. The money will provide meals for four or five families over the next month.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments