Looking into an audience filled with La Cañada High School students Tuesday night, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said kids should never believe suicide is an option.
"We want our students to understand that suicide is not the answer,'' she said, adding that one of the things administrators and staff are cognizant of in this kind of situation is suicide contagion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines suicide contagion as "a process by which exposure to the suicide or suicidal behavior of one or more persons influences others to commit or attempt suicide.''
"We're not going to romanticize this event. I don't want any students to feel like it's a solution,'' she said.
On Friday, 17-year-old Campbell Taylor, a senior, jumped to his death from a third-floor walkway in the 7/8 (middle school) building. Since then, the community has come together for a candlelight vigil at the school, and students and faculty have inked messages for their lost friend on bulletin board paper, taped to a campus wall. At a memorial filled with candles and flowers, some students typed messages to Taylor on a vintage typewriter, a nod to his contributions to the school's newspaper, the La Cañada Spartan.
As the community begins to heal from the shock and horror of Taylor's death, Sinnette said that the district has brought in additional grief counselors that are tending to any student who wants to speak with someone. So far, about 200 students have spoken with mental health professionals. Two students who weren't able to be seen Tuesday were re-scheduled for Wednesday morning.
La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board President Scott Tracy opened Tuesday's board meeting with a moment of silence, and bowed heads. He followed that with a speech commending Sinnette for working around the clock to make sure that, in addition to communicating with parents, students, crisis management professionals, the media and students, the kids are being tended to.
"The senior class loves her and trusts her,'' he said, before pointing out another heart wrenching aspect of this tragedy: Taylor [whom the district identifies only as "a student,'' per the request of his parents, though the county coroner has released the boy's name and cause of death] was a member of the last class of kids she oversaw when she worked as the principal for La Cañada 7/8.
"We are all in this together,'' Sinnette said following Tracy's comments. "I don't think that our administrators will ever be the same.''
Sticky Notes of Support Affixed to Students' Lockers
LCHS Grad Speaks out about Student's Death
Hundreds Turn out for Candlelight Vigil
Video: a Cañada High School Suffers 'A Completely Saddening and Horribly Devastating Event'
La Cañada High School Student Dies After Jumping or Falling Off Campus Building
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