St. Clair R-XIII School District Superintendent Mike Murphy told board of education members last week that there were 16 students at St. Clair High School who checked a box on a questionnaire indicating they needed to talk to someone “immediately” about themselves or a friend.
The questionnaire was given to all SCHS students early last week as they and R-XIII staff continue to deal with emotions and feelings in the wake of the three recent teenage suicides within the district.
The 16 students were in addition to a larger group of 128 high-schoolers who indicated they “need to talk to someone within a few days” about themselves or a friend.
“This is some of what the staff has experienced because of this,” Murphy said during last Thursday’s school board meeting. “We identified 128 students who stepped forward and said they needed some assistance.”
The superintendent said trained counselors have talked to each one of those students at least once. The 16 have a much higher degree of urgency.
“We’ve identified those students as high-risk,” he said. “They are being seen on a daily basis.”
The counseling is being conducted in a one-on-one setting.
“We are monitoring the health and well-being of our staff and students at the high school,” Murphy said. “That’s our first objective.”
Currently, there are more than 700 students at SCHS. Counseling services have been available to all of them.
High school nurse Marcie Drewel told board members that all SCHS students last week were talked to about the recent tragedies. Each student was asked how he or she was feeling and that those feelings may drift or change.
The signs and symptoms of depression were discussed as was suicide specifically. Each student also was told to picture a trusted adult he or she can go to to discuss serious matters.
In addition, Drewel said each teenager was asked to identify what they felt they could do to help other students, and suggestions were shared to help work toward a solution to start the healing process.
“We have an amazing group of kids here,” she said. “All they want to do is get better.”
Murphy said attention also will be paid to junior high and other students in the district as the process continues.
“We’re just getting started with this (healing process),” he said. “We’re nowhere near the end. I do appreciate the support and patience (we’ve received) as we keep the focus on the safety and the well-being of our students.”