’s Britton Middle School has shocked and saddened all of South
County. The loss of a young life stuns parents, who cannot grasp
the death of a child; teachers, who put so much time, effort and
energy into educating children; and students, who must now deal
with a peer’s death much sooner than a
nyone would like.
News of the suicide of a 14-year-old student at Morgan Hill’s Britton Middle School has shocked and saddened all of South County. The loss of a young life stuns parents, who cannot grasp the death of a child; teachers, who put so much time, effort and energy into educating children; and students, who must now deal with a peer’s death much sooner than anyone would like.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the girl’s family, friends and educators who are now coping with a senseless and inexplicable loss. In the aftermath, our community is faced the sad truth that one suicide often spurs others who were contemplating taking their own lives to act. Teenagers seem to be especially vulnerable to the copycat suicide syndrome.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, high risk factors for suicide include previous suicide attempts, mental illness, family history of suicide, previous sexual abuse, impulsive or aggressive tendencies and substance abuse.
We urge anyone who knows a vulnerable child to be especially alert right now. The National Institute of Mental Health suggests the following steps if you know someone who is considering suicide:
• Take their distress seriously
• Listen non-judgmentally
• Help them contact a professional for help
If the person is in imminent danger of harming themselves, do not leave them alone. Call 9-1-1 and stay with them until help arrives. Two local hotlines are dedicated to helping anyone considering suicide. The Community Solutions Crisis Hotline is 683-4118. The Santa Clara County toll free, 24/7 Suicide and Crisis Hotline is 683-2482.
As a community, let’s work together to try prevent another family and another school from experiencing a similar, senseless loss.
Finding the right way to handle the emotional aftermath of a tragedy such as Britton’s is always difficult. We think Britton Principal Jim McDonald and his staff and District Superintendent Carolyn McKennan and her staff found that right way. The two leaders helped students, staff, employees and parents through a whirlwind of unhappy emotions. To see a principal at his best, take another look at the photograph in Tuesday’s Times of McDonald comforting his two students. It’s at www.morganhilltimes.com