December 16, 2020
Dear Middle and Upper School Families,
As you may know, there has been rising concern during this pandemic about the effect of isolation and loss on the mental health of adolescents. As a faculty, we are unable to monitor our students in the same way as we typically can when we are teaching them in person, walking the halls and having casual conversations in the dining hall. We are hearing from other counselors and from professional resources that there is a rise in depression and anxiety during this pandemic. In September, NPR reported on this, and the concern that this could result in an increase in teen suicide rates as well.
Because of these concerns, we thought it was important for you to learn about the tragic news that Gahanna Lincoln High School lost a 14-year-old freshman to suicide Tuesday morning. We would guess that some of you who live in Gahanna, as well as your children, may have a connection to this student or his family and have heard the sad news. Although we don't usually send out news from other schools, we are taking this step because of this unusual and uncertain time for our students. We know that news travels quickly between our social media savvy adolescents. We are unable to gather them together to help them with a unified message of the need for them to reach out if they are hurting. We are providing the news to you and some resources for discussion in order to support any conversation you may want to have with your children about this.
This can be devastating for those who may have a connection to this young man. We know that news of a suicide can affect, sometimes tragically, other adolescents who may also be struggling with their mental health. If you are concerned that your children have been affected by his death, grief counselors are available online through OhioHealth. They have been a wonderful resource for many years in our own community. You can email Lauri Yersavich at email@example.com, and she can let you know more about their services and connect you with a grief counselor.
You can use this screening form as a guide if you have concerns about your children, as well as these handouts about signs/symptoms of concern and how to react if you are worried about your children or if your children report they are concerned about one of their friends.
The most important thing to remember is to stay calm, listen and react in a caring, non-judgmental manner to what your children are saying, and seek professional guidance if needed. There are national 24-hour crisis lines listed in the information provided above, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital and OSU/Harding operate crisis lines as well. Their numbers are 614-722-1800 (ages 17 and under) and 1-888-276-2273 (over 18). Please reply to this message or feel free to contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns about this information.
We know this is a tough message with which to end the year. We also know for sure that your kids are looking forward to their time to relax with family and that you just being there and listening to them – loving and appreciating them – as well as making sure to have some laughs with them will lift their spirits and provide lasting benefits!
All the best to you over the holidays,