BANGOR- A Bangor High School student died by suicide last month, But how the announcement was made wasn’t well received.
“Teachers were left to individually manage their students during the class they were attending when Mr. Butler announced the death by suicide of Mark over the intercom system,” said Marcella Kenny, a parent of Bangor High School students.
A guide from the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention specifically advises against making these announcements in assemblies or over loud speakers .
“It has also been proven by research that people with large numbers of adverse childhood experiences, an ACE score, are more likely to attempt suicide in the future,” said another parent. “As a parent of someone with an ACE score approaching the double digits, this is triage for me. I worry about him. I worried about him from the minute he texted me saying they made an announcement about a students death by suicide.”
At the school committee meeting on Wednesday night, committee members said they followed protocol.
When asked for a copy of the protocol, committee members said it’s part of a private emergency action plan.
“We’ve had Acadia look at our protocol. We’ve had Community Health and Counseling look at our protocol. We’ve had NAMI look at our protocol,” said Dr. Betsy Webb, the Bangor school superintendent. “We’ve had Department of Education look at our protocol. Protocols are important, but there is no one protocol that is perfect.”
Principal Paul Butler said he based the decision to make the announcement that way on the fact many students already knew and it would help them better monitor their reactions.
“This was heartfelt way of getting an important, sad message, to students efficiently, and put teachers in the best position to do what they do best,” Butler said. “That was the decision I made and I stand by it.”
School officials said they will continue to focus on mental health resources.
Webb also mentioned hiring a communications director to better disperse information.