Coweta School Prepares To Help Kids Deal With Suicide Of Student

Monday, February 4th 2013, 10:09 pm
By: News On 6

Coweta marked one of its darkest days Monday night, as a circle of candles illuminated messages from friends and classmates left to remember a 9th grader who ended his life in a school bathroom.

Police say it was a single gunshot. Students say it sounded like a stack of books being slammed to the ground.

The school went on lockdown, and parents came to pick up their children.

It's unclear where 15-year-old Triston Stephens got the gun or why he chose to end his life. For friends and classmates, the struggle to understand his decision may be a long one. Counselors who work in Coweta schools are fielding questions and concerns from not only kids, but parents as well.

An impromptu memorial is growing at Coweta Intermediate High, and so are the emotions surrounding the suicide of Triston Stephens.

2/4/2013 Related Story: Coweta Community Reacts To Freshman Student's Suicide

"It's scary, because I never thought it could happen in Coweta, but it did, and I guess we have to live with that now," said one of Triston's classmates.

She said he was nice, but different.

"He didn't have many friends, he was kind of an outcast and everyone made fun of him in the hallways," she said. "His hair, he dyed it different colors every other week, and he just wasn't like everyone else."

She said Triston was always sweet to her and when she said hi to him the day of the shooting, nothing seemed wrong.

"Everyone thought he wasn't smart and he was dumb, but in all reality, he helped me with my math and I couldn't do it," she said.

"This is a community tragedy," said counselor Sandy Shrum.

2/4/2013 Related Story: Police: Coweta Student Dead Of Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound

Shrum is from Coweta and works with a counseling company that contracts with Coweta schools. She never counseled Triston, but said when it comes to suicide, teenagers often don't understand the permanency of it.

"Most of them like this are seeking attention, they are hurting inside, they want somebody there for them, they are reaching out the only way they know how to reach out," Shrum said.

We may never know what Triston's personal battle was, but the hardship now lies on the people he left behind.

"They may be dealing with this, not just today and tomorrow, but for lots of days to come and months to come. We're just going to be here for them," Shrum said.

Shrum encourages parents to talk to their kids about the school suicide. She says don't ask questions, just listen and let the children do the talking.

Coweta Public Schools has asked several counselors, including Shrum, to be on campus Tuesday for students and faculty who feel they need to talk.