LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - With eight suicide deaths in the JCPS community this school year, district leaders are taking big steps to combat bullying and address mental health issues.
"As a principal for 10 years, one of the most challenging things that I’ve had to face is the loss of a student,” Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said.
Pollio said the recent death of 10-year-old Kerrick Elementary School student Seven Bridges has been especially hard for the district.
Bridges' mother claims her son suffered persistent bullying at school and on the bus and that it pushed him to take his own life.
"We're grieving a 10-year-old boy who had a vibrant and caring personality,” Pollio said. "What we're seeing is not unique to JCPS alone. It's clear to me that we need more resources and to take additional steps to address these difficult issues."
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death in Kentucky for people between the ages of 10 and 34.
Pollio announced plans to host a suicide prevention summit which will include mandatory training for all JCPS administrators. He plans to partner with other school districts for the training, too.
More resources will also be available to students and parents.
The district plans to upgrade their existing online bullying tip line to make it even easier for families to report concerns.
By fall of 2019, students at every JCPS school will have access to mental health counselors. It’s a plan the district has been working on for a few months and Pollio said it’s the most important step in dealing with the issue.
"As we remember the young boy’s life, let us be kind to one another this is a time of compassion for the family who is suffering we are here to support you and support all of our families,” Pollio said.