PALO ALTO (KCBS)— It’s being called a crisis; and now the Palo Alto Unified School District has voted to hire two mental health specialists in the wake of continuing student suicides.
Final approval must still be taken, but it’s clear that educators are sending a message by supporting spending money on the new hires.
The district’s two high schools; Henry M. Gunn High and Palo Alto High School have had an unusual amount of suicides. Gunn experienced five suicides between May of 2009 and January and 2010 and just four weeks ago, a 15-year-old from Palo Alto High walked in front of a train.
“We’re facing a teen suicide rate in the community of 30 times the national rate,” said board member Ken Dauber. “I spoke with a licensed therapist at Gunn last week who let me know that currently at Gunn we have students who are expressing suicidal ideation nearly every day.”
The board voted to hire two mental health therapists in an effort to come up with ways to reduce the teen suicides at a cost of $265,000.