Finding mental health services in wake of Medford middle school tragedy

MEDFORD, Ore.– A Medford middle school community is in mourning after a young student died by suicide this week.

Hedrick Middle School in East Medford notified parents of the tragedy Monday afternoon – offering services to anyone that may need it.

“There are adults who are here for them, who care about them, it’s ok to have these feelings and let’s talk about them,” said Natalie Hurd, spokesperson for Medford School District. “We know that it is our responsibility to provide our students with the resources to cope with tragedies.”

The school district says several resources are available to students and staff should they have thoughts of suicide. Hurd says they have trained and licensed counselors at every school and a suicide prevention specialist who tours the schools, providing students with resources on coping mechanisms and advice on prevention.

But the district says the most important relationship is between students and their teachers.

“We do see that our students talk to the adults in our building that they trust and we hope that they continue to do so and that they reach out for help when they need it,” she said.

Jackson County Mental Health also wants everyone to know help is out there, especially outside of school where experts say having that discussion in your family is just as vital.

“We need to really focus on the people that are left and need to support them,” said Kristin Fettig, suicide prevention coordinator with the department. “So asking how they’re feeling about it is super important.”

Fettig has discussions about suicide with middle school and high school students across the county. She says on average, she and other mental health counselors visit individual classes once or twice each year. It’s still not enough.

“In health classes, that’s where I’m usually going and doing the presentations and I think it needs to be happening more,” she said. “It starts at home just like everything. It starts at home, having these conversations that mental health is something that’s normal.”

Increasing the number of staff visits to students to talk about suicide prevention will cost more funds, says Fettig. That’s why she’s encouraging parents to discuss with their children to break down the stigma against mental health issues.

She says as a community we need to be supportive of those with mental health issues. Having that support could help make a difference.

“The more we break down the stigma of mental health and it being ok to seek services, the more we’re going to see people reaching out when it comes to suicidal thoughts,” she said.

According to the World Health Organization, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds.


The Medford School District says there is a response line to help teachers, staff and law enforcement respond to safety concerns and threats of suicide.

The Safe Oregon Tip Line is a free service operated by Oregon State Police and manned 24-7.

You can call or text that number at (844) 472-3367.


Resources are also available outside of schools. If you are in crisis, call the lines for life YouthLine, a teen-to-teen crisis and helpline.

You can call (877) 968-8491 or text teen-2-teen to 839-863. You can also connect online at oregonyouthline.org.

Jackson County Mental Health also has a 24-hour crisis line for local help. You can call (541) 774-8201.

 

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