Mid-Michigan school focuses on suicide awareness - WNEM TV 5

Mid-Michigan school focuses on suicide awareness

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
BAY CITY, MI (WNEM) -

A Michigan mother opened up on Dr. Phil about the vicious prank that pushed her son to take his own life.

Katrina Goss said her 11-year-old son Tysen Benz hanged himself after students at school told him the girl he was interested in had taken her own life. It was a lie, but Tysen didn't realize it.

Now his entire community mourns the loss.

Goss said she hadn't witnessed anything to make her believe it was possible and sometimes the most subtle hints go unnoticed.

"There's so many things with kids that go on behind the scenes that we don't know here," said Melanie Heller, teacher at Bay City Western High School.

Heller is focused on helping students avoid destructive behaviors.

She has been actively working with Survivors of Suicide to proactively address adolescent suicide at her school.

Heller said it's important to encourage dialogue because school officials can't always see what's going on that could impact a student's mental state.

"And often times they go home and then you start to see that mask come off on social media. You know, things like that where other students see it, where we don't as adults always see it," Heller said.

Recently a student saw something on social media that sounded an alarm. That student reached out to educators at Western and asked them to intervene.

Local experts have concerns some young people are receiving negative exposure of the topic of suicide through movies and entertainment. Saginaw Survivors of Suicide said they are seeing a high increase in activity during the past month.

"Sometimes you just gotta give the kids the OK, that it's OK to talk about it. It's OK to ask for help and that's what we're here for," Principal Judy Cox said.

Experts said it's important not to point blame at a particular person or situation. They said the decision to commit suicide often comes from a person's perception.

Western has had students take their own life in previous years. Cox said family members, school officials and fellow students can never be too proactive.

"It's truly the one thing you never want to have to deal with because you want to be there for all kids," Cox said.

If you or someone you know may be struggling and in need of help you are urged to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-8255.

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