Beneath a rise in U.S. suicides is the painful phenomenon of deaths clustering in the same town, at the same school, on the same block .
(KUTV)- Students, teachers and parents at Herriman High are rallying around each other after a sixth student died by suicide this school year.
All six students were boys.
“It’s a crisis in the community,” Denise Christiansen, president of the PTSA at Herriman High, said.
Since the boy died last week, the school has called in an out-of-state expert on suicide prevention, Dr. Scott Poland from Nova Southeastern University, to talk to and train students and teachers.
They’ve also placed nine district counselors at the school who are available all day to talk to students.
Students responded by posting notes with positive messages on each other’s lockers.
Katelyn Moody, a senior at Herriman, said when she heard of the sixth death, her heart sank.
” I was like another one? How can this keep happening?” She said.
Christiansen said right now, it’s important to understand be there for students who are left with the pain of losing classmates and to make everyone at school feel like they are important.
Parents are welcoming students at school every day as they walk into school.
“We don’t want them to feel like they are alone,” she said.
Across the valley at Alta High, Student Lexi Florez was very upset when she heard about the deaths at Herriman.
She posted about it on Facebook and some Herriman students responded.
“They feel sad and want to do something about it,” she said of the students’ posts.
Some were frustrated with the school’s response to the recent string of suicides.
Florez, who knows the pain of suicide after losing a friend last year, met with the principal at Herriman to talk to him about what his students said on social media.
She feels a responsibility to raise awareness about suicide after her friend’s death.
She has been active in the Hope Squad at her school, which promotes events that make students feel included and foster a more friendly environment at school.
She said kids feel a lot of pressures these day that can affect their emotional well-being.
“A lot of people aren’t so nice. They need to be nice to others, ” she said of the environment in schools.
Back at Herriman High, Katelyn Moody said she’d like adults to talk more openly to students about suicide.
Even though many parents want to avoid the subject, she wants them to know that kids can handle the conversation and want to talk about it.
She said if students feel heard, they will be more likely to seek help if they are in crisis.
“If we don’t talk about it enough, then kids don’t know that people care,” she he said.