Tragedy strikes the East Valley as 5 students between the ages of 15 and 18 years end their lives within a 7 week time span.
To preserve the privacy of the families of the students we are limiting the information given about the victims. The students were:
A 15 year old boy - Hamilton High School
A 15 year old boy - Brophy Catholic Prep
An 18 year old boy - Brophy Catholic Prep
A 15 year old girl - Chandler High School
A 15 year old boy - Perry High School
In 2020 almost 46,000 Americans died by suicide. Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. Among children of high school age, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death, after accidental injury. However, despite this the suicide rate among children is significantly lower than among adults. Men are almost 4x as likely to commit suicide as women.
Statistics of suicide
In the recent streak in the East Valley, 4 of 5 suicide victims were boys, 1 was a girl. 3 of the victims were in CUSD80, a public school district with around 40,000 students. The suicide rate of 10 to 24 year old Americans is about 1 in 10,000 per year. This means that in a population of 40,000, around 4 suicides per year conforms with the overall statistical average. Lower or higher numbers do not necessarily mean there is an epidemic because there can be some random/statistical variations from the average without this constituting an aberration.
It is also possible to see a number of suicides in a relatively short period of time, and then to not have any for a long period of time. Such is the nature of statistics based on random variables. If the variation from averages becomes too large, then statisticians typically start to suspect that events are not in fact random, but that there are underlying correlations and even causations. It is not clear whether the recent streak of suicides in the East Valley constitutes random variation or some sort of correlation. Please read on for more explanations of this.
The image below shows the most common causes of death for 15 to 19 year olds in the United States.
Local mothers demand action
Recently local mothers met with officials from the Chandler Unified School District to ask the school district to take action. According to our unnamed source, district officials pointed to existing programs like:
Not my Kid
District officials also mentioned a technology called Gaggle which can be integrated into school communication systems to automatically look for language that suggests that a student is considering suicide. It is unclear to what extent the technology is used to monitor student communications in the district. There may also be ethics concerns about infringing on student privacy and parental rights. In regards to school counsellors, district officials pointed to parental rights, meaning parents have to give consent before a school counsellor can talk to children.
There is also the problem of false flags as almost 10% of students today say they have considered suicide at some point. It is not easy to distinguish between someone merely having a bad day and uttering suicidal verbiage to blow off steam - by the far the more common event, and someone who is genuinely considering taking their own life - a very rare happenstance.
Activism often promises, almost always wants money, doesn't always lead to solutions
In addition to this, responding to a crisis by throwing money at the problem and hiring a bunch of people can create vested interests, waste, fraud and abuse and may do nothing to solve the issue. As an example, local advocate Katey McPershon who is often quoted in the mainstream press says her education career is focused on student and teacher social-emotional needs and wellness, youth mental health initiatives, social justice, and digital citizenship/social media responsibility. Alert parents know that a massive series of protests is still ongoing. Parents fight school boards who want to use so called social emotional learning (SEL), social justice and critical race theory (CRT), to indoctrinate children into hating themselves, their culture and country, including stoking racial hatred.
Causes of suicide
According to our sources, at least one of the local children who ended his life appears to have been immersed in a toxic family life of abuse and neglect. Abuse and neglect in broken families is often cited as the No. 1 reason for the suicide of children. CUSD80 board candidate Kurt Rohrs recently pointed out that instead of advocating for marriage and intact families, public schools these days do everything they can do promote what he calls de-parenting.
However, there are other causes of suicide, meaning not every child suicide can be traced back to abuse and neglect by the family.
Behavioral experts point to a contagion effect whereby a suicide in a geographical area can trigger others in the vicinity who have been considering suicide for some time to follow through as well.
Experts expected suicide rates to increase due to Covid lockdowns. However, while anxiety and stress may have increased, suicide rates seem to have held steady, although deaths from drug overdoses have indeed risen sharply from around 70,000 in 2019 to more than 90,000 in 2020. For perspective, more than 3 Million Americans die each year. Leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer.
Studies on whether so called suicide hotlines can help reduce suicides are needed. Currently available data appears to show that such hotlines can reduce short term anxiety, however there are no data to suggest that such hotlines can reduce suicides in the long term. This does NOT mean that such hotlines do not help long term, it just means that this has not been systematically studied, meaning we do not know.
What can parents do? Experts recommend the following:
Provide an intact and healthy family life, with mother and father both present
Discourage isolation with a life based purely in the online world
Get your children off social media
Evaluate whether your children should have a smart phone at all
Pay attention to your child's friends, take action to end toxic/destructive friendships
Encourage a healthy life style regarding food, exercise, study and sleep
Talk about mental health with your children, including the topic of suicide, when appropriate
Don't leave pills, alcohol and guns accessible to your children without supervision, but don't take comfort in doing only that, as there are many ways to end ones life
Those who feel at risk of suicide can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).