Recent teen suicides prompt Port Angeles schools to plan session for parents

By Paige Dickerson
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES -- A program on Thursday will discuss with Port Angeles School District parents how to identify and help students who are might contemplate suicide and how to help students who are grief stricken by the loss of a friend or family member.

The talk was scheduled in light of the deaths of two students from the school district in as many months, Superintendent Jane Pryne said.

The discussion, which will be Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Port Angeles High School library, 304 E. Park Ave., will be led by Sue Eastgard, who works for the Teen Suicide Prevention Program in Seattle.

"We sent a letter district-wide so any parent of any age child or anyone in the community who would like to attend can because everyone has been affected by this tragedy," Pryne said.

Port Angeles High School junior Jacob Bird died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in late January.

His father came forward and publicly identified Bird and the circumstances of his death in the hopes that parents and others could prevent further suicides.

But a 15-year-old Port Angeles High School student, whose name Port Angeles police did not release because she is a minor, was found hanged the Peabody Creek ravine Saturday.

The Thursday talk for parents will be held in the high school library, which can accommodate up to 450 people depending on how many tables are set up, Pryne said.

A prevention program for students is also in the works with the Teen Suicide Prevention Program, but it hasn't yet been firmed up, Pryne said.

Port Angeles police are still awaiting results of an autopsy on the body found hanged, but Cpl. Bob Ensor, who is leading the investigation, said there was no evidence that anyone besides the girl was in the area when she died.

"There is no evidence of foul play," he said. "There is no evidence that anything besides a very sad thing happened."

Grief counselors were made available at schools in both instances to help students cope with the deaths.

Pryne said parents who have concerns or questions may contact the district's counselors. The counselors can be reached at 360-565-1562.

Officer Clay Rife, who is the school's liaison officer with the Port Angeles Police Department, said police are also trained in suicide prevention, and he and his fellow officers are willing to help if a parent is worried about someone who is potentially suicidal.

To contact a law enforcement officer in a nonemergency situation, phone 360-452-4545.

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Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at paige.dickerson@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 07. 2011 11:45PM
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