(EDITOR’S NOTE: Mail-Journal Reporter Tim Ashley contributed to this update.)
“You can’t help people that don’t want to help themselves. But I’m telling you, if you reach out and ask for help, you have people who want to sit there and listen.” That is the message youth motivational speaker and teen and family life coach Jeff Yalden offers to Wawasee High School this morning.
On Jan. 31, Wawasee High School brought in Yalden to offer the students encouraging words for a better life; telling them to set goals and dreams and work to achieve them.
Yalden was invited to the school in light of two student suicides that have occurred this 2012-2013 school year and, as of yesterday, what is now at least two more threats or attempts this school year.
At about 2 p.m. Monday at WHS, a student suffered a broken jaw after falling from the ceiling of the band room. According to Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corp., the student had a pass to leave his class and somehow entered the band room through a locked door.
“The band room is not used in the afternoon, but it is in the morning,” he said.
There was no one else in the room at the time the student entered and the room was dark, Edington said.
As reported by Stacey Page of StaceyPageOnLine, police scanner traffic indicated the student called 911 from his cellphone and said he was trying to kill himself. Edington said he could confirm the student did call 911 from his cell phone but could not confirm he said he was trying to commit suicide. “I can’t refute that, though, if that is what was said on the scanner,” he said.
Ironically, school administrators and law enforcement officers were holding a school safety meeting when they learned of the student’s fall, Edington noted. The student was transported by an ambulance to a hospital and has injuries not of a life threatening nature.
There was also talk at WHS Monday that a suicide note was found in a bathroom at the high school. Today, Edington says it was not written by the boy who fell from the ceiling and he offered, “The note was more like a reaching out, a cry for help. We found the author of the note and he did not plan to harm himself.”
Shortly before 7 p.m. Monday, Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to a 911 call from a female noting her boyfriend, a WHS student, said he was going to commit suicide on the train tracks near Enchanted Hills. Authorities contacted railroad officials and the trains were stopped while police searched for about two hours before they located the teen. He was reportedly unhurt.
During his 16-hour day at WHS last week, Yalden encouraged students and staff to “embrace one another, close a past chapter of hardship,” and give themselves permission to move forward. “On Monday, the school was rocked with another incident that could have been prevented if the students would reach out for help,” Yalden shared on his YouTube message to the school. “It’s OK to talk to someone, but nobody can care about you more than you need to care about yourself.”
Edington said he was made aware some WHS students contacted Yalden yesterday. “He (Yalden) encouraged them to contact somebody,” Edington said, in relation to the Monday evening incident.
As Yalden stresses in his talks to teens, he ended his message with a reminder to “Take Time To Think.”