MVLA marshals support services in aftermath of student’s suicide

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Town Crier File Photo
A Mountain View High School student has died by suicide. The school is providing additional counseling services on a walk-in basis.

 In the wake of a Mountain View High School student’s suicide last week, the district has mobilized a team of therapists to provide additional support for students and staff.

Over a dozen extra counselors came to the campus to provide drop-in services for anyone who needed support. More than 100 students and staff used the services, Principal Dave Grissom estimated.

As of the Town Crier’s Monday press deadline, extra therapists remained on campus.

Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Superintendent Nellie Meyer said the student’s death was a “great loss” and that anyone who wants to talk with someone should reach out.

“I want them to know that we care for them, that we understand their sadness and want to give them a space to express that in safe environment,” Meyer said. “We want to give them a place where they can talk about how they feel.”

On the evening of Oct. 1, a Mountain View High School student took his own life. At the family’s request, the district is not
releasing the student’s name.

The next morning, teachers were given a statement to read to their classes, explaining that a student had killed himself and there were resources on campus to support students.

Meyer and Grissom sent an email to parents explaining that a student had died by suicide and that counseling services were available on campus. Links to resources on dealing with grief also were included.

“It is with deep sadness that we must inform you that we lost one of our students to suicide last night,” the email read. “Students were informed of the tragedy this morning and our school community is currently grieving the loss.”

The Community Health Awareness Council sent therapists to the school, who met with students and staff on a drop-in basis.

“We were supporting the community and the district yesterday in particular to help everybody process the loss,” CHAC Executive Director Marsha Deslauriers said Thursday. “We responded immediately yesterday with a presence on campus.”

Deslauriers emphasized that those affected should allow themselves the time to navigate the challenging process of grief.

“The community is at this point still in shock,” she said. “Grief can be compared to an intense physical wound.”

Support services

In addition to the extra therapists who came last week, the school also has mental health services available year-round. These include two therapists at Mountain View High who are district employees, as well as additional CHAC therapists who work full-time on campus.

“There’s been a real focus on wellness here,” Grissom said.

Students can reach out to any school staff member to get connected to the services. There are also referral boxes on campus where students can refer friends they are concerned about.

In recent years, district administrators have aimed to increase the number of mental health services on campus. The district is in the process of hiring a district wellness coordinator to help oversee mental health services.

According to Meyer, the district is continuing to build a support system for students to ensure they know where to go to get help and feel comfortable doing so.

“We need to certainly look at what we can do to make sure that all students feel safe,” Meyer said.

According to Grissom, over the past few years Mountain View High has worked to be conscious of the stress students face and find ways to mitigate it.

“Anytime that we have a situation like this, we begin to question ourselves,” he said. “It’s hard. We question what more we could do.”

Although there isn’t one clear answer, he said it’s a problem high schools throughout the region are facing. After last week’s suicide, Meyer said four other school districts, as well as the Santa Clara County Office of Education, reached out offering resources and support.

“Collectively, we want to continue to address the mental health of our students,” Meyer said. “This isn’t something that we can let the gas off on.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at (800) 273-TALK (8255). To reach the Crisis Text Line, text “HOME” to 741741.

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