Strike a Chord: What's a School to Do?
Teachers have to be quick on their feet, but what do they do when tragedy strikes? As part of WFUV's Strike a Chord campaign on teen suicide prevention, we headed to one school that had to find out.
Last spring, a student at the High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College in Manhattan died by suicide. Five months later, a group of sophomores, who asked to stay anonymous, said the tragedy doesn't come up much.
"We haven't really talked about suicide lately because it's a sensitive topic around this school," said a male student. The three others nodded in agreement, standing outside the school in Hamilton Heights after classes got out.
After the death, students said the principal came to speak to each classroom - but that was it. The high school didn't respond to requests for comment, but a Department of Education official said every school puts together a crisis intervention plan at the beginning of the school year.
"So the staff is familiar so when signs do come up regarding students, or phone calls from parents, the schools can act right away accordingly," said Diane Costagliola, Deputy Chief Executive Officer for the DOE's Office of Safety and Youth Development
She added that staff is trained to respond in a certain way after a suicide.
"To identify the students that they're going to be working with first. To identify the close families that they're going to be supporting first. And coming up with a specific plan for them and how they're going to address those students at the school."
So while the high school didn't hold any all-school assemblies on suicide, a student said teachers are still showing their support.
"All the teachers... they always ask if you ever feel upset, or you need to talk to someone you can always talk to me or you could find somebody, because somebody wants to listen."
It's a more individualized response, and the students say they like it.
See our other stories in the Strike a Chord series here:
Thursday: Does Bullying Cause Suicide?