Mack High grapples with student suicide

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – Students and staff at McKinleyville High School are being offered counseling and support services in the wake of an apparent suicide that closed the campus on Friday, May 3.

At 6:30 a.m. that morning, a janitor found a deceased student on the school quad. Law enforcement and medical responders were summoned to the campus, and parents were alerted through robocalls that classes were canceled for the day.

“We are heartbroken over the death of one of our students through an apparent suicide,” said Principal Nic Collart. “Our thoughts and  prayers go out to his family, friends and the larger community.”

On Friday, May 3, grief counseling was available for McKinleyville High students, staff and community members at the McKinleyville Family Resource Center, Two Feathers Native American Family Services and the McKinleyville Teen & Community Center.

“There is no easy way forward, but our first step is going to be taking care of our students, staff and school family,” Collart said on Friday. “We will continue to provide support services at McKinleyville High School on Monday when our school reconvenes and in the days moving forward.”

Due to the sensitive nature of the situation, the school is releasing minimal information. Instead, the school is providing suicide prevention resource referrals and encouraging people to seek help.

“It is important for all of us to handle this situation  in a thoughtful and responsible manner,” Collart said. “Therefore we are unable to release any more details at this time and we ask that you all as the local media follow the national guidelines for responsible reporting which we have available for you here.”

At a press conference on Friday, a reporter was provided with information from reportingonsuicide.org, which gives tips on how to report on suicides in an effort to prevent suicide contagion, or copycat suicides, that can come from reporting that contributes to more suicides.

“I’m honored to be a part of this tight knit community and I know that we will need to lean on each other,” Collart said. “I am confident in our school communities strength to do that.”

Warning signs of suicide

• Talking about wanting to die

• Looking for a way to kill oneself

• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose

• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

• Talking about being a burden to others

• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

• Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly

• Sleeping too little or too much

• Withdrawing or feeling isolated

• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

• Displaying extreme mood swings

What to do

• Do not leave the person alone

• Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt

• Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

• Take the person to an emergency room, or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

– From reportingonsuicide.org

RESOURCES

• Humboldt County Mental Health, (707) 445-7715

• YSB Youth and Family, (707) 444-2273

• North Coast Rape Crisis Team, (707) 445-2881

• Humboldt Domestic Violence Services, (707) 443-6042

• National Suicide Prevention Line, (800) 273-8255

• United Indian Health Services, (707) 825-5060

• For emergencies call 911







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