PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Startling news tonight out of the School District of Philadelphia about students taking their own lives. A number of suicides has the school district and city agencies struggling to come up with a response.
FOX 29 has learned since May 11 three Philadelphia students have committed suicide and a 4th attempted suicide. The deaths have prompted the school district and city agencies to quickly respond to the growing crisis.
As we've reported on May 11, Malik Kelly--a student at Pennypacker Elementary School in West Oak Lane--hanged himself after arriving home from school to tell his mom it had been the "worst day of his life."
FOX 29 has learned two days later Saturday, May 13, a 14-year-old female student at a Northwest Philadelphia charter school hanged herself. Last Thursday at 3:40 in the afternoon, an 18-year-old male student at South Philly's Furness High School shot himself to death. He was weeks from graduation. FOX 29 has been told the 18-year-old had made an earlier attempt on his life. The suicides "did not" occur on school grounds."
The School District of Philadelphia declined an on-camera interview Tuesday, but in a statement wrote:
"Anytime we lose a child in this city to suicide, we all mourn. The City of Philadelphia and The School District of Philadelphia join together with families in their loss. We must ensure that all young people, no matter their circumstances, know that there are people and resources to help them in times of despair. There are always ways to seek assistance and make a situation better.
The School District has communicated with principals, counselors, teachers and parents about how students can best handle situations where they feel intimidation, loss of power or depression. The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIdS) has provided consultation and support to the students and staff at the schools affected through the Department’s Suicide Response Team.
For those who need immediate help, they can text 741741 or call 800-273-TALK (8255).
Our collective goal is the health and well-being of the young people of Philadelphia. Suicide affects everyone and we all can be a part of the solution to prevent it."
• Any time an incident like this happens, the City and the School District work together to offer support from feet on the ground to screening and support groups. This is to ensure that schools have professional support they need. The City and the District also leverage relationships with faith-based or community organizations that can also offer assistance.
• Network of Neighbors outreach teams and Student Assistant Program assessors have been deployed at the impacted schools seeking support."
FOX 29 has been told the district learned yesterday of yet another student who recently attempted suicide and is in the hospital.