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School boards tell parents support is available after recent student suicide in the region

A Central Wellington District High School student died by suicide on Sunday, says the school's principal
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In reaction to the recent death by suicide of a Fergus high school student, the local school boards and Canadian Mental Health Association are telling parents some signs to watch for in children who may be affected by the death and to let them know the supports that are available.

In a letter signed Monday by Chad Warren, Centre Wellington District High School principal, parents were informed a student at the school had died Sunday by suicide.

The letter includes tips on how parents can speak to their children about suicide and provided contact information for a child and youth counselor, a social worker and the head of guidance at the Fergus high school.

“I also encourage you to let your child know that you are aware of the incident and that you will listen to their concerns at any time they wish to share them. Staying connected and engaged with your child is one of the best ways to support them,” wrote Warren.

The Upper Grand District and Wellington Catholic District school boards issued a joint letter Thursday, along with Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington, to inform all parents in the district about the death.

“Adolescents can be profoundly affected, even if not personally connected to the people involved in the events. Most often, adolescents seek out the support of friends but will still need adult help and will benefit from your support and listening, when needed,” said the joint letter.

Staff at schools across the district have been briefed on how to identify distressed students and the joint letter notes child and youth counselors, psychologists, social workers and Chaplains at the Catholic Board are available to support students if the want to talk.

“Normal grief reactions can be very intense for children and adolescents and can be quite different at different ages. Young children may need more comfort and reassurance, middle-aged children might have a need to talk and ask many, possibly difficult questions,” said the joint letter.

In addition to accessing online resources, Warren said Guidance Office staff can provide paper copies of the resources at the request of parents.

Parents in Guelph and Wellington County concerned about how their children are dealing with the situation are encouraged to contact their school or to access emergency resources, like the 24-hour crisis line Here24/7 at 1-844-437-3247.

Warren noted two important messages in his letter, that everyone should seek help from others when feeling down or vulnerable and that young people should tell an adult if they are worried about a friend hurting themselves.

If your child is already using the services of a mental health professional, said Warren, the information about the death of the student should be passed on to them.

Warren said the school will concentrate on supporting their students and staff over the next few months.

“This means, among other things, returning the school to normal routines as soon as possible and recognizing that students can be affected by this event for many months to come,” he said.


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