Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 12 2010

Major life lesson

A student told me he was going to kill himself. I thought he was kidding, but it’s not up to me to make that decision. I called the parents just to let them know. The parent reassured me repeatedly that he was kidding, but promised to talk to him anyway. I emailed my administration just to let them know. Administration called the boy down, just to talk to him.

Turns out he was not kidding. He’s now getting counseling and a whole team of people looking out for him and hopefully everything else he needs. He was really truly actually asking for help, and I thought it was no big deal. What if I had ignored it? What if this child had told me what he was going to do and I had forgotten in the million other things I was thinking about? What if I hadn’t notified all those people, just to be safe? What if I had stopped at just calling the parents? The possibilities terrify me. The school counselor told me to take this as a good life lesson: I promise I will always, always, always, always take these things seriously. Promise. Always.

To all the lovely Arizona legislators out there: please do not cut funding for our school counselors. I know their grant money is going to be the next thing to go in this economy, and that’s not funny. She’s the one taking care of this child and checking in with me every day on his every move. Every child at our school needs counseling and none of them can afford it. I could not do this alone and there is too much at stake. Cut funding somewhere else.

3 Responses

  1. As an Resident Assistant, I dealt with an attempted suicide and a suicide in the course of 2 years. Sometimes there are no signs or cries or help and sometimes there are. This student trusted and confided in you, and is now alive because of you. It’s a pretty scary responsibility. I’m sure I will encounter similar situations in my upcoming 2 years as CM and will hopefully respond the same way you did.

  2. My friend in high school killed himself. It was pretty devastating for everyone. I wish there had been someone to step in and stop him. Although I don’t know if there ever were any signs.

  3. wearepennstate

    I’m glad you didn’t ignore it. I’ve been in the same situation. If a kid says things like this and you don’t report it (and he or she acts on it) you can be sued/ lose your job.

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