Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 18, 2015 · Page A21
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page A21

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Page A21
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Resources » The Rochester Community Mobile Crisis Team provides immediate, 24-hour intervention for individuals and families experiencing a mental health crisis and can be reached at (585) 275-5151. » The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Western New York chapter provides outreach to those who have lost a loved one to suicide, as well as educational p rograms and trainings. Call (585) 202-2783 or email » The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be called 24 hours a day at (800) 2738255 or contacted online at » The Consortium on Trauma, Illness and Grief in Schools (TIG) provides resources and t raining around a variety of mental health concerns, including suicide, to all public schools in Monroe County. Its website is Suicide in teenagers is relatively rare, and it is not always possible for adults to foresee it. But there are a number of risk factors and warning signs that experts recommend parents look for in the greater context of their child ren’s mental and emotional health. T he suicide rate for people ages 15-24 i s about 11per 100,000 people, according to the Association for Suicide Prevention,a much lower rate than for older age groups. There are extremely few suicides among children younger than 15, though pre-teens in middle school face many of the same emotional stresses and pressures as older peers. Other statistics show cause for greater concern: Nearly one in five high s chool students seriously contemplates s uicide in a given year,with girls doing s o at twice the rate of boys. I n 2003, 8 percent of teenagers in the United States attempted suicide, leading to medical attention for 300,000 of them, according to the American Psychological Association.About 1,700 killed themselves, making suicide the third-leading cause of death among people in that age range. Tony Hess, an expert on youth suicide prevention with Hillside Family of Agencies, said it stands out because it is so much more preventable than other causes of death. “Our society doesn’t deal well with t he topic of death, particularly self-inflicted death,” he said. “We often have this perspective that, ‘I don’t want to be too nosy.’ ... But we can make a difference with this topic. There’s discomfort in asking a teen about suicide, but that moment of discomfort might make a difference in getting life-saving support.” Mental health experts have identified a number of warning signs that young people may exhibit just prior to a suicide a ttempt. They include changes in eating and sleeping habits; loss of interest in usual activities; alcohol and drug use; neglect of personal appearance and loss of i nterest in normal activities, including school; unnecessary risk-taking; giving away favorite possessions; and becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression. M ore broadly, there are some risk f actors, the presence of which may put children at a higher risk for thoughts of suicide. They include diagnosable mental health or substance abuse disorders, or a family history of them; recent nega- t ive life events or losses; a family history o f suicide or violence; prior suicide attempts or exposure to others’ suicidal behavior; access to firearms; and incarceration. Just because one or more of those risk f actors is present doesn’t mean a teen- a ger is likely to die by suicide, but indicate a possible need for awareness from adults. Hess cautioned that adults should never dismiss teens’ comments about sui cide as jokes or idle threats. C onstant Internet and social media access also can exacerbate conflicts that students are having at school and prevent them from lapsing during school breaks, or even overnight. “ When I was a kid, when the school y ear ended, you had a reprieve and you got to go home and be with your closest friends,” said Dan Cady, the father of 12- year-old Kennis Cady, an East Rochester girl who took her life in July. “Normally e nough time elapsed that cooler heads w ould prevail and a new school year was afresh start. ... In today’s age with social media, these children are being bom- barded daily.” A 2010 studyshowed that cyberbully- i ng victims were twice as likely to die by suicide, while cyberbullies themselves were 1.5 times more likely. Over their lifetimes, up to 40 percent of children fall into the former category and up to 20 p ercent fall into the latter. “ Although cyberbullying cannot be identified as a sole predictor of suicide in adolescents and young adults, it can increase risk of suicide by amplifying feelings of isolation, instability, and hope- l essness for those with pre-existing emo- t ional, psychological, or environmental stressors,” another set of researchers concluded. The Monroe County Trauma, Illness and Grief Consortium, which provides mental health resources to local school districts, has a number of resources around suicide, including how school staff should handle suicidal talk and behavior as well as the aftermath of a suicide. That response needs to cover sever- a l aspects, from those who were close to the student as well as more distant con- n ections, inside and outside the school. Memorials can be another fraught topic, as the needs of the school community at the moment will likely be differ- e nt in several years. “It’s important to acknowledge the level of complexity and individualized planning that’s required,” TIG coordinator Amy Scheel-Jones said. I f a child tells an adult that he or she is c onsidering suicide, the most important thing is to remain calm, listen and then connect the child with help. “The adult needs to have the strength and fortitude to step into that situation a nd ask the question: ‘Are you thinking a bout suicide?’” Hess said. “The key to this is really making sure we ask a question that differentiates between life and death. ... Some people might shy away from that, but we find in research that a sking the question doesn’t plant the i dea, but it does help us uncover situations.” Youth suicide: Warning signs outlined JUSTIN MURPHY @CITIZENMURPHY PROVIDED Kennis Cady with brothers, Merritt, Solas and Aidan, while on a family vacation in Stone Harbor, N.J., in 2014. Meet Justin Murphy Justin covers K-12 education in the Rochester area, encompassing public, private and parochial schools. He’s worked at the Democrat and Chronicle since 2012 and b efore that was a reporter for The Citizen in Auburn. Justin grew up in Penfield and attended the University of Chicago and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He lives with his wife and English bulldog in the Highland Park neighborhood. In 2012, the New York State Education Department began requiring all public schools to file reports on incidents of bull ying, harassment, intimidation or men- a cing, an effort to shine a light on an age- old problem. That light has shone more brightly s ome places than others. Two years after the reporting requirements went into effect, 42 Rochester-area schools in 14 dist ricts told the state they had zero such incidents in the 2013-14 school year. Some of the schools have a reputation f or well-behaved students, including those in Brighton, Fairport, Penfield and P ittsford. But even a serene student body would be hard-pressed to pass an entire school year without one material i ncident of harassment of any kind. Amanda Nickerson, director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Pre- v ention at the University atBuffalo, said student surveys show that one in three c hildren report being involved in bullying. Even more report being involved in some sort of harassment. “From what we know from multiple studies, bullying and harassment are common and it is nearly impossible for a school to have no incidents in an entire s chool year,” she said. Reportable behavior is defined under the law, in part, as: “conduct ... that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student's educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being.” There are two distinct but similar categories in which schools are supposed to report such offenses. One is the Dignity for All Students A ct, (DASA), which specifically gathers bullying and harassment incidents. The o ther, which has been in place longer, is the Violent and Disruptive Incident Report (VADIR),which has several sub- c ategories, including one for “intimida- t ion, menacing, harassment or bullying,” either with or without a weapon. T he 42 schools, with a combined stu- dent body of more than 20,000, listed no incidents in either category. All the districts involved either confirmed that there were, in fact, no reportable incidents in 2013-14 or did not r espond to a request for comment. W hen asked whether the state education department believes the data it receives from schools is accurate, spokes- w oman Jeanne Beattie pointed to a series of training sessions the state is providing on the subject and said that “ NYSED continues to work with districts to ensure that VADIR and DASA data is reported accurately.” A report earlier this year by the state comptrollersurveyed seven secondary s chools from across the state, including East High School in Rochester, and found 935 unreported incidents under V ADIR across all its categories in one school year. The DASA data is also broken down b y the topic of bullying. There again, Monroe County children either showed r emarkable civility or had their offenses go unreported. For instance, there were only 29 reported instances of bullying related to weight across all the school districts in the county, which have a combined enrollment near 110,000. Besides its reporting requirements, D ASA includes a framework of training and intervention sessions that schools are supposed to follow. Nickerson said compliance there seems to be better. She suspected reporting is sometimes low either because schools are confused about the requirements or because they fear being identified as unsafe. “It’s just sort of a crime count, so I’m sure some schools don’t want it to be a poor reflection of what they’re doing,” she said. “If another school is reporting z ero and they were going to report 42 cases, that might make them pause. ... B ut (with better reporting) there would be an open acknowledgment that this is an issue and they’re taking it seriously.” T o see how your district reported bull ying incidents, go to and search for “bullying.” J Bullying reports lacking at some local school districts JUSTIN MURPHY @CITIZENMURPHY DemocratandChronicle .com Sunday,October18,2015 Page21A Go to rochester.nydatabases.comfor a listing of the total reported incidents in 2013-14 for each public school in the Rochester area. District School Enrollment Brighton Council Rock Primary School732 Brighton Twelve Corners Middle School 808 Brighton French Road Elementary School818 Brockport Ginther Elementary School 559 Churchville-Chili Churchville Elementary School418 Fairport Minerva Deland School 498 Fairport Northside School681 Fairport Dudley School 645 Gates Chili Florence Brasser School279 Greece Brookside Elementary School Campus 373 Greece Holmes Road Elementary School410 Honeoye Falls-Lima Lima Elementary School 300 Penfield Cobbles Elementary School465 Penfield Indian Landing Elementary School 443 Penfield Harris Hill Elementary School469 Pittsford Mendon Center Elementary School 764 Pittsford Thornell Road School447 Rochester School 43 - Theodore Roosevelt 545 Rochester School 52 - Frank Fowler Dow357 Rochester School 57 - Early Childhood School 247 Rochester Rochester Early College International High School333 Rochester charter school Genesee Community Charter School 216 R ochester charter school U rban Choice Charter School 3 98 Rochester charter school University Preparatory Charter School For Young Men 393 Rochester charter schoolRochester Career Mentoring Charter School158 Spencerport William C. Munn School 333 Spencerport Leo Bernabi School360 Victor Victor Primary School 734 Victor Victor Early Childhood School651 Webster Dewitt Road Elementary School 517 Webster Klem Road North Elementary School480 Webster Plank Road North Elementary School 577 Webster State Road Elementary School549 Webster Spry Middle School 1,055 Webster Plank Road South Elementary School556 Webster Klem Road South Elementary School 553 Webster Schlegel Road Elementary School532 West Irondequoit Briarwood School 157 West Irondequoit Seneca School154 West Irondequoit Colebrook School 166 West Irondequoit Southlawn School204 West Irondequoit Listwood School 138 Schools with zero reported bullying incidents,2013-14

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