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Students call for additional counseling resources in wake of another suicide at Neuqua Valley

Newquan Valley High School students speak out after a second classmate of this school year died by suicide.

Principal Lance Fuhrer spoke about the student’s death, which occurred last Wednesday, in an email to the Newquaa Valley community. Fuhrer explained in detail the need to focus on the emotional stress that students feel and strategies to support them.

Several Neuqua Valley students spoke at the Indian Prairie Unit 204 board meeting Monday to call for additional advisory resources. Some said they came from the student’s awakening to speak to the school board.

“We as students feel we need more resources dedicated to mental health,” said Claire Malloy, a student in Newquay Valley. “Having specially trained counselors and social workers for teens would be a great advantage. These professionals would be like our academic advisors, assigned to students, and would provide mandatory check-ins for all students.”

In his email, Fuhrer said the school’s crisis team — 12 school counselors, three social workers, three school psychologists and a mental health coordinator — met with hundreds of students last Thursday and Friday.

He said that in the future, the school will continue to support students by developing general coping skills, encouraging and crafting student advocacy skills, and deepening intervention with students who have come close to crisis.

District 204 administrator Adrian Talley, who presented his board’s report after students spoke on Monday, said district officials planned to meet this week with principals in Newquay Valley, Mitya Valley and Waubunsi to discuss how to “increase what we’re already doing in our schools” to focus on health mentality of students.

“We want to get to it with a three-pronged approach, working with the staff and building their capacity, and also helping the students and our community,” Talley said.

Talley agreed with the students’ comments that while the district has mental health resources, there aren’t enough to meet the many needs. He described it as an ongoing national issue.

Students who spoke Monday spoke of the academic pressures that come with being part of one of the state’s highest achieving school districts.

“We have been told all our lives that we are smarter than anyone else,” said Lucas Lumpana Arias, a student at the Newquaa Valley. “This creates this environment in which we are expected to succeed and thrive academically. If we don’t, we will be considered losers. Our grades are tied to our self-worth.”

Neuqua: The school’s crisis team met hundreds of students last week


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