Police in Rotterdam are investigating the suicide of a 14-year-old Schalmont freshman. And while many are still learning about what happened, YNN's Erin Vannella spoke with leaders and experts who about how the school and community are coping.
ROTTERDAM, N.Y.-- School leaders, parents and students observed a moment of silence at Monday night's school board meeting, proceeding with business as usual, but not forgetting a life lost.
After news of a 14-year-old's death by suicide, Shalmont school district reached out to help.
"We're concerned for the student's parents and members of his family so we've reached out to them. Our high school principal met this morning with staff members before school started then there was a statement that teachers in first period classes read to their students," said Superintendent Dr. Carol Pallas.
With grief councilors and psychologists in place, Rotterdam Police do their part to explain the tragedy.
"There have been some reports over social media that bullying may have been involved. We've investigated each of those reports and at this point, we still haven't come to a specific incident where bullying may have been a factor in the case," said Lt. Michael Brown of the Rotterdam Police Department.
But experts in suicide prevention say social media is only one avenue to research.
"You know, it's really about looking for warning signs. Eighty percent of people who die by suicide really don't want to die. They just don't see an end to their pain," said Laura Marx, AFSP Capital Region Area Director.
Aside from obvious verbal cues, experts say subtle behavioral changes can indicate something's wrong, too. And inquiring isn't invasive, they say. Rather, with Shalmont as an example, it can be life-saving.
Marx said, "You know, maybe someone who had dressed really nice is not showering or there's this child who has always sat in the back of the room and never participated and suddenly he's sitting closer to the front. And what the child is really thinking is he doesn't want to be remembered as the kid who sits in the back. That's when we want to be concerned."
"Certainly our condolences go out to them," Pallas said. "We're really, as a community, saddened by this entire event."