MASSILLON, Ohio—There’s a much different mood inside Perry High School. This week, the school community received the news that a third student had died by suicide this year.
“It’s tough because at the root of it all is I’m a father,” said Scott Beatty, Perry Local Schools Superintendent.
Superintendent Beatty and the other staff are heartbroken at the tragedy and are now increasing counseling resources for students and staff.
“This is a significant amount of loss of life for any community and something that you can never really be prepared for and that’s part of the challenge,” Beatty said.
Counselors met with nearly every one of the 1,600 students at the high school Thursday.
Margaret DeLillo-Storey is the district clinical counselor and said the students will have as much support as they need going forward.
“This won’t end today. Tomorrow they will be able to talk, they can email, they can call, they can come down to the counseling offices and we will continue to be available throughout the rest of the school year,” she said.
The school began special mental health awareness training called the ‘Signs of Suicide’ program with the Sandy Hook Promise organization. Now that training is even more critical as students and teachers move forward and try to stop suicide in their community.
“Recognizing signs and symptoms. When to report, how to report, who to report. How we can help our kids to be eyes and ears to report,” DeLillo-Storey said.
The kids had already stepped up to reach out to their fellow students through a video after the first suicide. Students will also go through suicide recognition and awareness training later this year.
“For our kids this is a tough time. We’ve talked a lot about this, it’s a tough time to be a kid and the challenges that face them today,” Beatty said.
Superintendent Beatty was born and raised in Massillon and even to Perry High School. He says he wants students know that there is a path forward.
“I think it goes around one word: Hope. I would tell our kids there is hope, there is hope,” he said.
The three suicides add to even more loss for the community. Students were already dealing with the death of two students from illness as the year was getting started.
Resources for students:
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).