BLOOMFIELD — The tight-knit Bloomfield community is struggling to come to terms with the deaths of two children who died by suicide within the last few weeks.
Bloomfield School District Superintendent Kim Mizell said the two children did not attend the same school and the district does not believe the deaths were connected.
Desert View Family Counseling CEO Rick Quevedo said suicides at schools can impact other students.
“For the average kid, this, of course, could be devastating,” Quevedo said.
He said suicides in schools can have a greater emotional impact on other students who may have anxiety or depression.
Crisis management teams including counselors have been sent to the Bloomfield schools to help students cope following the loss of their classmates.
Desert View has been on standby to offer support to the schools and Quevedo said the counseling service is having discussions with Mesa Alta Junior High School about starting a peer support group.
He said the students have indicated a desire to have peer to peer conversations that are facilitated by an adult. Quevedo said he thinks it is a great idea.
Mizell said parents who are concerned about their children can reach out to the schools and have students connected with counselors or other mental health professionals.
Quevedo said parents should be open with their child and talk to their child about the recent suicides. He said there is a myth that talking about suicide will lead to a child considering suicide.
“We can’t talk about it if we don’t say what it is,” he said.
He said parents should ask their children how the recent suicides make them feel and ask their children if they have ever had suicidal thoughts.
Quevedo also encouraged parents to stay close to their child and not to be afraid to check the child’s phone, notes and tablets. He said children may feel that is invasive, but it could alert parents to cues or signals that their child may be having suicidal thoughts.
He said parents should monitor social media interactions in light of the recent suicides and the upcoming anniversary of the Aztec High School shooting. Quevedo said comments on social media can be triggering to some children.
Quevedo said it is important to lose the stigma about mental health. He said if a person breaks their arm, people sign their casts and offer support. Quevedo said that same support should be available to people who are struggling with their mental health.
He said parents should be aware of local resources. For example, Desert View offers crisis sessions at no cost to families.
The school district is also launching a program that may help connect students with resources. Bloomfield launched the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System this week at Bloomfield High School, Mesa Alta Junior High School and Charlie Y. Brown High School. The reporting system will allow students and parents to submit anonymous tips, including tips about suicidal thoughts.
The program has already been deployed in other local districts.
“The other districts are having positive results,” Mizell said.
Tips can be made online at saysomething.net or by downloading the Say Something app or by calling 1-844-5-SAYNOW (1-844-572-9669).
Anyone who is contemplating suicide can receive support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line at 1-866-622-7474.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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