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Pleas made to South Williamsport School Board for more mental health awareness

SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

South Williamsport School District officials were asked to deal seriously with student mental health and suicide issues.

Several people showed up at this week’s school board meeting to make the case for action in light of a recent suicide involving a district student.

Among those addressing school officials was the mother of a child who took their own life while a student in the district.

She said their child was the victim of bullying, while noting that there were certainly other “things going on” in the child’s life.

“You guys need to do something,” she said. “I feel the school district failed.”

She said she didn’t feel as if suicide is something discussed with students.

Also addressing the board was Devin Thompson, a South Williamsport Police Department crime investigator.

He said an investigation into the recent suicide of a district student concluded that bullying was not an issue.

“We found zero instances of bullying,” he said.

Two senior students, including one who claimed she has been bullied, also asked school officials to deal more seriously with suicide and mental health matters.

District Superintendent Dr. Mark Stamm said suicide is a complex issue.

“We too are searching for answers as to why this occurred,” he said.

He noted there are mental and emotional health resources offered in the district for students.

Stamm referred to QPR (Question Persuade Refer) techniques and evidence-based training available to assist people in learning the warning signs of suicidal ideation and to intervene on behalf of someone in crisis.

He urged all district residents to take advantage of the services.

Board member Diane Cramer said students need to be aware of available resources. Board president Todd Engel agreed.

“We do take this very seriously,” Cramer said.

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