Trigger Warning: This article mentions suicide.
School is in session for millions of students around the country.
While most kids are just settling into new classrooms, meeting new teachers, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, one school is already grappling with tragedy.
Students at Palmetto High School in Palmetto, Fla. are traumatized after one of their classmates appeared to jump off a third-floor landing in what authorities and media outlets are deeming an “apparent suicide attempt.”
This is heartbreaking.
The student was air-lifted to the hospital. According to Fire Rescue, she sustained “traumatic injuries.” There is no other word on her condition.
Miami-Dade Schools PD Chief Edwin Lopez tweeted that the school was placed on a temporary lockdown after the student jumped, writing:
“Earlier today, @palmettoSHS was briefly placed on lockdown due to a medical emergency involving an injured student. The student has been transported to the hospital for further evaluation.”
Earlier today, @palmettoSHS was briefly placed on lockdown due to a medical emergency involving an injured student. The student has been transported to the hospital for further evaluation.
— Edwin Lopez (@SchPoliceChief) August 23, 2022
Crisis counselors were brought in to support students and staff.
Video of the incident, taken by a student who witnessed the tragedy, is making its rounds on Instagram, Snapchat, and various media outlets, however, we are choosing not to share it here.
For context, here is a photo of the open-air staircase where the incident occurred:
According to CBS News, the video shows a security guard climbing the stairs to try to reach the girl. Before the guard was able to reach her, she jumped.
The video also shows a school employee trying to catch the girl. It is believed that this act of heroism may have saved her life.
Eyewitness accounts say that the victim did not fall, she jumped.
11th-grader Marcena Barrero told reporters:
“She just jumped. There was A security guard going up the stairs when she jumped and the minute the security guard got there and she saw her, she just let go and stepped off.”
Another 11th-grader, Emily Fonseca, said:
“Everyone was traumatized. Everyone was like, this is like, a movie thing. Everyone was shocked. The teacher was shocked. It was horrible. Horrible.”
Vingenzo Bermudez, a 9th grader said:
“It’s sad. It not only happens here, it happens everywhere.”
And in another sad commentary, a police officer on scene was overheard telling a fellow officer:
“It’s the world we live in, right?”
But it shouldn’t be.
Our kids are not alright.
There is a mental health crisis in our country. Full stop. Our kids are hurting. And there are not nearly enough resources to help them.
This is yet another harsh reminder of the precarious state of the mental health of our kids.
How many stories like this one do we have to read about? How many kids have to witness something similar to this?
How many children have to be pushed to the brink of taking their own life before something is done?
For months our news feeds have been flooded with article after article crying out about the toll the pandemic had on our kids.
Back in December, the U.S. surgeon general issued a public advisory warning of the “devastating” mental health crisis among American teens.
According to the CDC, emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts in teenage girls are up a whopping 51% since 2019.
Depression and anxiety are skyrocketing. Nearly 1 in 2 high school students report having persistent feelings of “sadness or hopelessness.”
And yet, according to an investigation by PBS, 70% of U.S. counties don’t have a child psychiatrist and if they do? The waiting list and wait times are astronomical.
Additionally, more than 60% of youth who report having severe major depression are not receiving any mental health treatment.
So what can we, as parents do?
Familiarize yourself with the signs of depression in teens. Watch your kids. Pay attention to changes in their behavior and their regular patterns and routines. Follow them on social media and monitor their social media use.
And above all, talk with your teen. About the hard stuff, the daily stuff, the inane stuff. Check-in – ask them how they’re doing. Acknowledge their feelings, frustrations, and fears.
And if your child is showing signs of anxiety or depression, call your doctor.
Signs of depression to watch out for:
- Angry outbursts; hostility; irritability
- Prolonged sadness; crying for no reason
- Feeling hopeless or empty
- Apathy and lack of motivation
- Decreased interest in personal hygiene or appearance
- Feelings of worthlessness; low self-esteem
- Extreme sensitivity to failure and criticism and needing constant reassurance
- Difficulty focusing; memory loss; inability to make decisions
- Restlessness and agitation – pacing, wringing of hands, being unable to sit still
- Changes in sleep patterns – sleeping excessively or struggling with insomnia
- Excessive weight loss or weight gain
- Complaints of headaches, stomachaches, low back pain, fatigue.
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
- Hanging out with a different group of friends
- Rebellious behavior; running away from home; acting out
- Using alcohol and/or drugs
- Poor school performance; skipping school; sleeping in class; failing grades
- POSTING NEGATIVE FEELINGS or thoughts of suicide on social media
- Smartphone addiction
Depression is unlikely to go away on its own.
Your teenager may need therapy or medication to help regulate her mood and control her depression. Changes in diet, sleep, and exercise can also help.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call the NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.