Jefferson County Schools (JCS) puts the physical and psychological safety of students first in everything we do. Since the start of the 2023-2024 school year, three (3) JCS students have died from suicide. Superintendent Dr. Chuck Bishop calls the number staggering.
"To lose even one student is totally unacceptable," Dr. Bishop said. "To lose three is unimaginable."
That is why Dr. Bishop said JCS continues work to actively address the issue in schools. The JCS Social Emotional Support Department (SoMo) partners with organizations across the region, including mental healthcare providers and law enforcement, to increase the available support and actively address the issue head-on. SoMo Director Dr. Lee Ebersole said it's about empowering students and families.
"We want to make sure that our students are able to tell parents and guardians what they need," Dr. Ebersole said.
The SoMo Department led the creation of a comprehensive suicide response protocol that went into use this year and has facilitated a request from health and wellness teachers to move suicide portions of their coursework to the start of the year.
As part of the initiative, a community meeting focusing on school and home safety will take place on Monday, Oct. 23 at 5:00 p.m. Jefferson High School Resource Officer Lt. Ben Williams and members of the SoMo department will present information about safety in schools and offer resources for safety at home. It is the first in a series of events designed to connect with parents and families. Dr. Bishop praised the effort, calling it a good start.
"This is going to take everyone working together," he said. "Parents, teachers, community leaders. All of us. Our whole community must partner and focus on this critical issue."