In the wake of three Polytech High School student suicide tragedies in the last two months, Milford School District officials held a forum about Suicide Prevention at the monthly Milford Parents Advisory Council (MPAC) meeting on Thursday, February 16. The program was aimed at parents and students to help assist them in recognizing signs of depression, identifying risk factors for suicidal behavior and providing information of where to turn if someone needs help.
Milford’s Director of Student Support, Dr. Sylvia Henderson, opened the forum talking about the three recent tragedies that have hit the surrounding communities. She described the three cases of suicide as a cluster of events that should be taken very seriously by all parents and students in the area. She explained that the unusual events have become more than just an isolated incident and should be viewed as a possible social issue that can lead to further tragedies.
“In the light of these recent events our parents and our community need to know that we are not taking a reactionary approach to these types of tragedies,” stated Dr. Henderson. “We provide awareness and support throughout each child’s educational career.”
District officials and school phycologists held assemblies last week to bring awareness to the three suicides in the area and educate Milford students on how to identify and help their peers, or themselves, if they believe they are in need of assistance.
At Thursday night’s forum school officials admitted that it can sometimes be difficult to identify individuals who show signs of depression at this age but urged families and friends to be aware of certain changes in attitude. The identified signs of depression included loss of interest in usual activities, feelings of worthlessness and withdrawal from family and friends.
School officials urged parents and students to contact the Milford High School Wellness Center if they notice any signs of depression like extreme anxiety, drug and/or alcohol abuse or a diminished ability to think or concentrate.
If students feel depressed or suicidal themselves, school officials urge students to go to the guidance or nurse’s office to ask for a referral to the School Wellness Center. These students should also talk with their parent or guardian and see a therapist in the community if possible.
Individuals seeking assistance with suicide prevention, awareness and support should call the Delaware Suicide Hotline at 1-800-345-6785.