Tunstall High School begins suicide-prevention training in wake of student suicides

Teachers, staff have just completed training

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. – Teachers and staff at Tunstall High School have just completed suicide-prevention training.

Principal Brian Boles is hoping to have students go through the training next semester.

"The things we're putting in place, we're hoping will help them to learn how to talk about their feelings and how to notify an adult that they need help," Boles said.

Some students have already been involved in the training.

Boles said they taught teachers and staff that students often don't know who to reach out to or how to reach out.

As a result, a suggestion box will soon be placed in the hallways.

"A student might not feel comfortable with expressing their feelings or talking about their feelings, and even if it's about a friend, they may be able to go by and place a concern in that suggestion box, which we would check daily," Boles said.

Almost immediately after a student committed suicide in November, the second student suicide in as many years, Boles began researching suicide prevention training.

Boles reached out to Amanda Oakes, the prevention services director at Danville Pittsylvania Community Services, who told him about the organization's "More Than Sad" program.

"It teaches the warning signs and risk factors," Oakes said. "It also goes over the scope of the problem and then what the staff and the school can do."

She is proud of school leaders for taking the initiative.

"(Suicide is) the second-leading cause of death among youth and it's preventable. That's why these efforts are so important," Oakes pointed out.

Since the suicide in November, students have started placing positive messages on each other's lockers.

At 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 in the auditorium, the high school will hold a suicide prevention education session for the public.

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