KNOXVILLE (WATE) – In the last few months, three Farragut High School students have taken their own lives.
One Farragut High School student, Catherine Miller, created a petition asking Knox County Schools to have more discussion about suicide prevention. It’s something Miller felt was important after she tried committing suicide in the eighth grade.
“The mourning and the uncertainty that it put your peers through,” said Miller.
She said she has met with school administrators who explained to her why there wasn’t more open discussion about it.
“If they hold an assembly, it could be a spark and it could be a trigger,” she said.
Parents were also heartbroken hearing the news. What was more shocking to them is that a suicide most recently was not the first this semester but instead the third.
“I was just having a hard time processing it myself,” said Kristina Oliver, a parent at Farragut High School.
“What is happening there that is causing this?” asked Jeff Smith, another parent.
Miller said she hopes other schools in the county will pay attention and realize that this can happen any where.
Knox County Schools does have a policy in place for dealing with suicides. Ben Harrington with the Mental Health Association says it’s a good policy overall and that the he and other mental health experts helped the county develop it.
Harrington says it isn’t always easy to tell when teenagers are under stress and having suicidal thoughts, but major shifts in behavior could be a sign.
Farragut High School Principal Ryan Seibe released a statement about the deaths saying, “We are deeply saddened by the recent tragedies at our school, and our support and condolences go out to the families. The welfare of our students is a concern of every member of our staff.”
Knox County Superintendent Bob Thomas also gave a statement saying, “The loss of life is heavy among any of students weighs heavily on us all, but the loss of life as a result of suicide is devastating. It’s a public health issue that Knox County Schools takes very seriously.”
A spokesperson with Knox County Schools says onsite counseling services are available to student and staff and will continue as long as needed. There will also be an informational meeting for families to discuss suicide prevention. Experts will be on hand to answer questions.
If you are looking for help or if you know someone who might need help:
- Helen Ross McNabb Crisis Center: (865) 539-2409
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255