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Guilderland school district hosts suicide forum

GCSD hosts suicide community forum

Nov. 10 meeting held at Town Hall

By DAN SABBATINO

sabbatinod@spotlightnews.com

Guilderland High School will host a community forum on Tuesday, Nov. 10, to address teen suicide, an issue that hit home at the high school last month.

A GHS student committed suicided Thursday, Oct. 8, prompting the district to increase awareness of teen suicide and counseling opportunities for the students.

\This is about mental wellness and emotional wellness, said Brian Bailey, assistant principal at GHS. "Unawareness and denial are a permanent resident."

Bailey said that the approach of the district has been to tackle the matter as a community issue, rather than isolating it to the school.

"It affected not just the student population, but the instructional staff and parents in the district," he said.

"Schools try to deal with the issue alone, but school is only six and a half hours a day."

Guilderland school officials have been in close communication with Schenectady County and school officials, who went through similar issues last year, facing multiple high school suicides.

Bailey said staff, counselors and social workers have been on "high alert," and are available for the students as a resource.

He said with statistics showing one-in-five people suffering some mental health condition, the challenge will be to "get the people there that need to be there."

The forum is sponsored by the the Albany County Department for Children, Youth, and Families, and featured "regional experts in the field of mental health...with emergency service personnel and local and school leaders," according to information from GCSD.

A letter sent home to parents shortly after the suicide is available on the districit's Web site.

"The past few weeks have been extraordinarily difficult for many of our students, families, and staff members, as we all try to cope with this tragedy. Undoubtedly, there are still strong emotions surrounding this loss," read the Nov. 3 letter from Superintendent John McGruie. "Our school crisis team has met to discuss some serious and lingering issues that may have emanated from this event, including issues of depression, anxiety, and students expressing suicidal thoughts."

Among the contacts suggested by the District, are the Child Guidance Center,381-8911, The National Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 800-273-8255, and the Samaritan Suicide Prevention Hotline, 689-4673.""

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