Editor’s Note: This letter was forwarded to us for publication with the following note: “I sent the following letter to Superintendent Slater on 8/28/17 in response to the email notifying parents of an attempted suicide by an FMMS student. I’m sharing this with you in order to let other parents and community members know they are not alone in their desire to see change happen for the sake of our children.”
Mrs. Slater: I wanted to thank you for your email regarding the incident at the Middle School. Obviously as parents, our first priority is the safety of our children. We live in a small community and when something like this happens it is not a single family that is affected, but the entire community. I’m writing you to let you know that while I appreciate your efforts to notify parents of your intentions to help this child and the family who is struggling, there is still more to be done.
My child is a fourth grader, so this is her first year at FMMS. My apprehensiveness to have her enter “middle school” at this age is only compounded by this news. When there are this many age groups in a single building it seems insufficient to address an event like this in a singular way. As an educator you know that a fourth grader and an eighth grader are going to react to this news in differing manners. Do you have a plan for the coming days? What about the students who aren’t comfortable discussing what has happened with their guardians? Do you have resources for them too?
Teen depression, bullying, and suicide are not new issues. They have been a problem for years and will continue for years to come. I see this as an opportunity to come together as a community to support our children in a proactive manner and remove the stigma surrounding depression and the silence keeping bullies free from consequence. Suicide is a symptom of a much larger problem, and in this situation, it’s a problem that impacts all of our children – not just one.
Mrs. Slater, I’m looking to you for guidance. Your experience as an educator and position as a leader of this community’s education system has led me to believe that you can tell us what you need to truly make our schools mentally and emotionally safer for our children.
As a parent I am here to provide my voice, asking our school system for more than an email with vague reassurance. As a community member I am here to provide my time and energy to assist in however you need me.