Suicide prevention at the forefront of lesson plan as pandemic continues to effect students, teachers

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No graduations, weddings, funerals...'Should you choose to participate, that's one thing, but when it's taken away from you... It's a loss and it can be a significant loss.'

MARSHALL COUNTY, W.VA. (WTRF) — Learning the signs of suicide and how to stay mentally healthy might be more important than ever right now during such a depressing and stressful summer. That’s why teachers, principals, nurses gathered together in a conference room at Grand Vue Park, learning how they can continue to help the hundreds of kids they claim responsible for.

Helping students in the classroom now extends through a screen as near 50 Marshall County Schools faculty members are working to keep their students and themselves afloat during this pandemic. 

No graduations… weddings… funerals … 

You work hard for 12 years to be able to be able to walk across the stage and take that tassel from one side to the other. And not being able to have that, should you choose to participate, that’s one thing, but when it’s taken away from you… It’s a loss and it can be a significant loss. What may be your typical Tuesday may be a breaking point for me.

Michelle Toman, Founder of ‘Brother Up Foundation’, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention WV Chapter

Lesson plans; thrown out the window. With questions now so basic; When will the school year even start? That can be disheartening. 

We’re all used to that schedule working out. And no one’s schedule has worked out for a very long time.

Karen Klamut, Director of Student Services for Marshall County Schools

“Jaimie’s Law” in 2015 makes suicide prevention courses possible, but this year the state upped the ante; adding an educator piece so all faculty could be trained in suicide prevention. With four different speakers Tuesday, the most poignant part might be asking; ‘Are you okay?’ 

Listen to the individual or child, colleague’s story. Listen and be aware of any changes in their moods, behaviors.

Michelle Toman, Founder of ‘Brother Up Foundation’, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention WV Chapter

Challenges will definitely be trying to keep track of all the students, especially the at-risk ones.

Julie Sturgill, Principal at Washington Lands Elementary School

 It’s hard to recognize the signs and symptoms in your students when not there in person, but being someone else’s superhero, means you might need to be your own. 

After getting through what they can do for the children, it’s also about what they can do for themselves. So, that we keep them healthy. They’re the ones receiving sometimes sad, troublesome situations that they’re dealing with multiple children.

Karen Klamut, Director of Student Services for Marshall County Schools

One comment I’ve heard more than anything this entire time in the last couple months, is ‘I just want to be back in the classroom with my students.’ I mean, it’s just been so difficult to interact with them in a way they’re not used to doing.

Julie Sturgill, Principal at Washington Lands Elementary School

As we weather through these hard times, many teachers in those doors are holding on to the hope that we’ll be able to get back to normal soon enough. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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