Kingsley Schools Work to Heal Following Student Suicides

“We’re a very small, tight-knit community. We all know each other, we know each other’s kids.”

The Kingsley community working together after a third student committed suicide.

Now reaching out to students, teachers, and parents.

This weekend, Kingsley held a funeral for an eighth grader, the third teenager to take their own life since last summer.

While the community is reeling, the school district is working hard on resources for both kids and adults.

“If somebody reaches out to you for help or if something doesn’t seem right to you, it probably isn’t. Stay with that kid to make sure they get the help they need,” says Kingsley superintendent Keith Smith.

Kingsley lost an eighth, ninth, and 10th grader: three student suicides in the last nine months.

“We had more kids than ever take advantage of counseling, 55. In one regard it’s good that kids are reaching out to get the help. But this last week has really been focused on counseling staff and kids and helping them work through the grieving process,” Smith said.

For all the focus that’s on the kids, and rightly so, the parents and teachers may be having a hard time too.

“Inside, teachers are really struggling because they were so close to these kids. And some of them, some feel like they went above and beyond to make really deep connections. They feel like what did I do wrong or what else could have I been doing,” said interim middle school principal, Pamela Alfieri.

Parents are encouraged to talk with their kids in age-appropriate ways, and should check in on their kids’ social media. A post was shared with 9&10 News on an app that allows users to send messages anonymously, suggesting that whoever received it should be the “4th suicide”.

“In terms of dealing with kids there’s probably nothing good that’s going to come out of allowing people to communicate with you anonymously. If a child feels this is still their only option or a way to solve a problem clearly there’s more we can be doing,” Smith said.

Smith says the district is working on a series of assemblies, guest speakers, classroom lessons, and even a movie night with a nationwide group on suicide prevention.

“That’s really the challenge is there’s not really a one size fits all curriculum in terms of giving kids different skills and coping skills,” he said.

Resources:

Michael’s Place: In Traverse City, for Grief Support: www.mymichaelsplace.net

Third Level Crisis Center 24-Hour Hotline (800) 442-7315 or (231) 922-4800

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-8255

Trevor Project Online Chat: www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now

Trevor Project 24 Hour Hotline: (866) 488-7386

Trevor Project Text Line, 6am-1am: Text “START” to 678678

National Alliance for Grieving Children: https://childrengrieve.org/resources/10-ways-to-help-a-grieving-child

Family Assessment and Safety Team (FAST) 24-Hour Hotline: (833) 295-0616

Crisis Text Line 24-Hours a day: Text CONNECT to 741741