QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. - Queen Creek High School is dealing with a crisis: Since May of 2017, five students have died by suicide.
The cluster of suicides has once again shined a bright light on a problem in our state.
“I would say right now we are in a suicide epidemic,” said Christina Nguyen, an East Valley mother.
She doesn’t have a child at Queen Creek High, but she does have a young daughter who tried to commit suicide.
“We are not doing enough. We have to take action as parents and a community,” said Nguyen.
On Friday morning, Nguyen and dozens of other parents and children rallied outside the high school to bring awareness to the situation and express love and support for those affected.
“There is no one reason kids are taking their lives. There’s multiple reasons,” said Nguyen.
The numbers in Arizona are frightening. In 2016, 65 kids between 10 and 19 years old died by suicide.
“Every child lost is devastating and horrible,” said Teen Lifeline Director Nikki Kontz.
The suicide crisis center answers calls from children and young adults that are depressed or considering suicide.
“We work to save lives. It is a problem in our nation,” said Kontz.
Melisa Glover Rogers is the mother of five children. One of them was 14-year-old Kara.
“She was always happy. She was a people pleaser,” said Rogers.
As the youngest child, Kara and Rogers were together a lot, often spending evenings and weekends going to movies or just hanging out.
“I didn’t see it,” Rogers said.
Kara first attempted suicide about one year ago. Rogers spent the next six months taking her to psychologists and counselors.
She was prescribed medication, but on July 22, 2017, Kara died by suicide.
“No one has a magic wand, but something needs to be done,” Rogers said.
One of the biggest issues may be traced back to the schools. Many middle and high schools are not taking advantage of available resources.
“They are not taking advantage of the information, training and people that are out there to help,” said Nguyen.
Kontz estimates that less than 10 percent of our schools are doing everything they can to educate students and teachers.
“This is not a simple fix,” said Kontz. “I think the alarms are going off.”
Nguyen and other parents are calling on parents to ask questions and encourage administrators at their children’s schools to seek out suicide education.
Sean McDonald is the principal at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe.
“Suicide is real. The anxiety students face is real,” said McDonald.
One of several schools in the Tempe Unified High School District students have the phone number to Teen Lifeline on the back of their student ID’s, “This is happening daily in our schools, some cases we find out about and save lives and some we don’t,” said McDonald.
Experts say talking about suicide does not make a child more likely to attempt suicide. In fact, talking is helpful.
You can also call 602-248-TEEN or 800-248-TEEN if you are feeling depressed or know someone who is.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.