JCPS focuses on mental health, social media after teen's suicide - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS focuses on mental health, social media after teen's suicide

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JCPS lead counselor Michelle Sircy and psychologist Joe Bargione offer comments on dealing with teen depression and social media. JCPS lead counselor Michelle Sircy and psychologist Joe Bargione offer comments on dealing with teen depression and social media.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville teenager posted a video suicide note on YouTube just minutes before she took her own life.

The tragedy has focused new attention on the problem of teen suicide and the challenge of social media.

The girl was a popular student at Male High School.

Her death has opened a new discussion inside and outside the Jefferson County Public Schools, about mental health, social media and coping with tragedy.

And the first question all are asking is why.

"There is no answer. We cannot begin to peer into the life of individuals, but we know that they were hurting, they were struggling," said JCPS lead counselor Michelle Sircy.

JCPS did not speak specifically about this case, but acknowledge it has focused new attention on helping those students who are struggling with life.

"We're going to meet the child where they are and provide those services, but it is a community effort. It's going to take all of us working together to make sure that we identify the needs of all of our kids," said Sircy.

The girl was a student at Male High School, and JCPS says whenever tragedy strikes, trained counselors are sent in to help classmates cope.

"Not only to those students who are immediately affected who may be the friends of that student, but even sometimes at that school, there may be another student who's dealing with some mental health issues who may not have direct contact with that student," said JCPS lead psychologist Joe Bargione.

The district also, for the first time ever, temporarily shut down student access to YouTube and other social media through school computers.

Officials say it illustrates the new challenge of trying to manage information and misinformation.

"Sometimes the information that is shared on social media may not be accurate about the event that occurred, whatever it was. And so one of the things that we always have to try and do as educators is have to provide the appropriate and correct information," said Bargione.

School officials hope this tragedy leads to a community conversation.

"We really need to be having this conversation outside of the school, too. What can we do as a community to support the mental health needs of not just our children, but our veterans, our older generations? What can we do to support the mental health needs of all people, of all citizens in Louisville?" said Sircy.

Last year, the were four reported suicides of people under age 19 in Louisville. While teens are not the largest suicide risk in terms of numbers, it always shocking because they would seem to have so much to live for.

The counselors say there are some obvious warning signs, such as suicidal comments, notes, drawings, and obsession with death.

Click here to find a list of suicide prevention resources.

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