JCPS discusses how to talk about mental health and tragedy after - News, Weather & Sports

JCPS discusses how to talk about mental health, tragedy after student's suicide

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Twenty additional grief counselors have been brought in to help students deal with this very public tragedy. Twenty additional grief counselors have been brought in to help students deal with this very public tragedy.
Michelle Sircy Michelle Sircy
Dr. Joe Bargione Dr. Joe Bargione

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Jefferson County Public School psychologists and counselors are encouraging parents, guardians and students to be on the look out for suicide warning signs after a Louisville Male High School student took her own life.

In 2013, four students in Louisville under the age of 17 took their own life. This year the number sits at one.

JCPS counselors and psychologists have been on hand to try to help students through the grieving process. Twenty additional grief counselors have been brought in to help students deal with this very public tragedy.

"We try really not to focus on the 'why' when we are working with kids, but how can we cope," said JCPS Counselors Leader Michelle Sircy.

Sircy said it is important for parents and educators to always be on the lookout for any suicidal warning signs. Signs could come in the form of changes in behavior, obsession with death, suicidal threats or giving away prized possessions.

"If you are worried about your child, you do not want to leave them alone, you want to provide constant supervision," said Sircy.

If there is a suicide of your child's friend, it's important to deal with your own reactions first, to remain non-judgmental and avoid gossip, and keep channels of conversation open.  

"Yes, it can be a little bit of an uncomfortable conversation with that student, but it is important that we do have that conversation," said JCPS Lead Psychologist Dr. Joe Bargione.

JCPS encourages parents to sit down with their children at home.

"Stay calm when you are talking to your child," said Sircy. "Ask them directly. Do you plan on hurting yourself? Are you having thoughts of suicide or depression?"

Five years ago the state mandated that suicide prevention training happen at the beginning of every year in grades 6th to 12th. If surveys reveal concerns parents are contacted on how to move forward to get the help needed.

"If the child goes to the teacher or the child goes to the assistant principal or the band leader, that they can recognize some of the warning signs and say hey I have concerns about this person what can we do to support that person," said Bargione.  

The family of 16-year-old Maddie Yates released this statement: 

"Our family is heartbroken with our loss. We are also overwhelmed with the love and support the community has shown our family. Our hope is that others struggling with depression will reach out for help. We are praying that something good can come from all of this. Maybe one family can avoid the painful loss of a beautiful young person like we have."

Additional resources available are:

  • Seven Counties has a 24-hour child crisis line available. They do counselor assessments no matter the time of day. All you have to do is call (502) 589-8070. You can also visit Seven Counties website by clicking here.
  • To view facts about suicide and suicide prevention from the National Institute of Mental Health, click here.
  • To read tips on how to have a conversation about suicide, click here.
  • For information from JCPS concerning suicide, click here.
  • You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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