Student body coping with three suicides in nine months
GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Three students within the Kingsley Area School District have died by suicide in the last nine months.
The most recent death was 8th grader Shealynn Pobuda who reportedly took her own life Sunday night.
“When I get a call from the sheriff's department, you can usually tell in their voice right away that something is seriously wrong, and my heart always sinks," said Superintendent Dr. Keith Smith.
Shealynn Pobuda was just 14 years old.
“Shealynn was a really good student," said Dr. Smith. "She was a little quieter, had a very strong core group of friends, she was a bright young lady and a great member of our student body.”
Dr. Smith says Shealynn’s family is heartbroken, and shocked.
“The thing that got reiterated was that there were absolutely no warning signs that the family was aware of that this was coming.”
According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, most people who take their own life exhibit one or more warning signs.
Sometimes they’ll talk about feeling trapped or being a burden to others, or sometimes their mood and behavior will change such as sleeping too much or withdrawing from activities.
"I think it’s important to not be afraid to ask the tough questions," said Melissa Fournier, Program Director at Michael’s Place. "It's really hard to say the word 'suicide' and it's hard to ask a child directly ‘are you feeling suicidal’ or ‘are you thinking about suicide’, but being very matter-of-fact and asking very directly will open up those lines of support and communication that the kids need.”
With the loss of three students to suicide in such a short time, Kingsley Area Schools is teaming up with TBAISD and local agencies like Michael's Place to help the student body cope with losing a classmate.
“Some kids are open and tearful and very willing to talk and some aren’t, and when they’re not, we need to find ways to help them have strategies for coping," said Fournier. "It may be immersing themselves in an activity as a distraction, writing or finding other ways instead of talking, but finding a way to cope with intense emotional experiences every person needs that.”
Fournier says even if it seems like a child is not affected by a suicide at their school, you should still try and talk to them because even if they don't say much, they'll remember that you were there for them to talk.
There will be a memorial service for Shealynn this Saturday at 11 a.m. inside the Kingsley Middle School gymnasium.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741