Teen Suicide Rocks Oklahoma Communities, Puts Schools On Alert
INOLA, Oklahoma - Teen suicide has grabbed way too many headlines this school year.
Teachers and counselors say these events can sometimes feed off each other, leading troubled kids to consider ending their own lives.
In Inola, the district has lost two students to suicide since school began in the fall. Neither of the suicides took place on school grounds, but the district says it's caused them to double down in efforts to keep kids safe.
More than 1300 students attend Inola Public Schools.
This year two of the kids, both boys, took their own lives -- a freshman in September and a junior in January.
"The first one, obviously, was a complete surprise, and anytime it happens, it's going to be a tragedy for the parents and the student body," Inola Superintendent Kent Holbrook said.
Holbrook said, in light of the tragedies, the district has increased student access to, plus local youth pastors make regular appearances on campus.
"We have some very, very good staff people here and I think most students here could find an adult, that if they were in that situation, they would feel comfortable talking too," Holbrook said.
In addition, two high-profile teen suicides at other schools have grabbed headlines lately.
Cade Poulos shot himself inside the Stillwater Junior High School in September 2012, and on Monday, Triston Stephens killed himself in a bathroom at the Coweta Intermediate High School.
The Oklahoma Child Death Review Board cleared 13 deaths in 2011 that were ruled suicide, although not all happened during that year. It found 11 of the teens were Caucasian, nine were boys, and only two of the 13 had problems in school.
"Kids nowadays, a lot of the time, they don't think of the permanency that suicide brings," Inola counselor Viki Peters.
Peters said it's important to take a child seriously when they start talking about thoughts of suicide.
"They're needing some attention, they're needing someone to care, to show some concern," she said. "So suicide is something comes to the forefront of their mind, because that is something that gets somebody's attention."
There are some warning signs, according to Peters.
Depression, withdrawal from normal activities, change in sleeping habits, rapid weight loss or gain.
If you notice anything unusual, you should contact a counselor or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.