Students deal with tragedy in Clay County

By Scott Johnson, General assignment reporter, sjohnson@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Mar 13 2014 11:56:27 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 14 2014 12:40:00 AM EDT

VIDEO: The Clay County School District is helping students cope with the recent suicide deaths of 2 students, they urge students to call the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -

Tragedy struck Clay County schools three times in recent weeks, as three teens committed suicide. Channel 4 looked into how the school district is helping students who are dealing with the deaths.

Clay County schools spokesperson Gavin Rollins told Channel 4 that every student has been given emergency numbers since the deaths.

"The counselors have been here the past two days, and will be here tomorrow and remaining weeks as needed," said Rollins.

Rollins said the district held an assembly Thursday at Keystone Heights High School, where all the students were given the suicide prevention line number.

Two of the recent suicides were Keystone students; the last suicide was a 13-year-old girl who was close friends with a previous victim of suicide.

"What we want to do is be mindful of social media activity, drastic changes in the way they have been behaving and that kind of thing," said Rollins.

The district said they have had counselors and various groups reaching out, like Clay County Behavioral Health Center, who acknowledges the deaths have been tough on the community.

"It's so not right for a child to take their own life so it sends a bit of a shock through the community, so it's natural," said Clay County Behavioral Health Center's Irene Toto. "Generally in Clay County we work well together, pull together in times like this."

Liz Colavecchio runs the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She said she's reached out to Clay County schools as well. Colavecchio told Channel 4 these deaths need to be a wake up call, because teen suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens.

"If they're seeming agitated or irritable, are they talking about suicide and plans? Other signs would be conduct disorder. There definitely might be sign on social media," said Colavecchio.

The national suicide prevention lifeline is 800-273-TALK, or visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.

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