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Pine-Richland High School Freshman Dies at Home

School district activates its crisis intervention team to help students cope with emotions.

Pine-Richland School District notified parents this evening about the death of a high school freshman.

“We deeply regret to inform you about a loss of one of our own in our school community ... (who) passed away at home today,” Superintendent Mary Bucci wrote in an email.

Details about the death were not released.

“This loss is sure to raise many emotions, concerns and questions for our entire school, especially our students,” Bucci wrote. “Please realize at this stage, information is very limited. As in all cases involving individual students, we have to be sensitive to the privacy of the family.”

The district activated its crisis intervention team to make school psychologists and counselors available to students to help them deal with grief. 

School counselors may be reached by calling the school's main office. Pine-Richland schools lead psychologist Maura Paczan and/or PR school psychologist Melissa Ramirez will be available at 724-443-7230, ext. 6500.

The district also recommends contacting the Caring Place, a grieving center for children, adults and families located in Pittsburgh and in the Warrendale/Cranberry area. Click here for the Caring Place's website.

Other resources available include the Resolve Crisis Network at 888-796-8226 and the Student & Young Adult Hot Line at 412-820-HELP.

“Our primary concern is with the care and well-being of our students,” Bucci wrote. “When we lose a student, we lose a member of our school family.”

Ella Haughtery May 28, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I am overwhelmed with sadness about this incident that occurred in January at the high school. It is my understanding that this tragic suicide occurred in part from bullying which was reported by the students to the grief counselors who were on hand at the school. It is also my understanding that there seems to be a veil of denial that such bully occurs in Pine Richland school district. Statistics show that 1 in 4 children are bullied, therefore the fact that this denial continues to be maintained is not only shocking, but infuriating. We have experienced 2 suicides in this school district within the past few years which is 2 too many. I can't understand why parents in this community aren't outraged-shocked-terrified about this behavior. Quite frankly, I am lucky. My son is smart, popular and well-liked by his peers-- he has never had to suffer the shame and indignity of being bullied. I say that because I am not a parent who is ranting because their child is being picked on. I am astounded at the lengths kids will go to torment their classmates-- and I am shocked that adults are comfortable passing this behavior off as "teasing" to quickly dismiss it. What is going on with our kids that they feel the need to torment other children so incessantly and why doesn't anyone seem to care? What are we doing to help our children grow into helpful, caring, respectful people instead of spiteful hateful human beings?
Cindy Cusic Micco May 28, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Ella, You are right—this is incredibly sad. To clarify, this incident did not occur at the high school. (The media usually does not publish details of suicides; it is considered a private matter and we want to respect the family's privacy.) The school district has adopted the Olweus Anti-Bullying Program at Eden Hall Upper Elementary School. http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/olweus_bullying_prevention_program.page http://pine-richland.patch.com/articles/eden-halls-anti-bullying-program-raises-questions Also, it will be implemented during the 2012-13 school year at the high school. http://pinerichland.schoolwires.net/prhs/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=301836 I don't understand how some children can be so cruel as to bully others. I'm sure there are a number of reasons why it happens. I truly hope the Olweus program helps change the way children think so they do not bully any more.
crosbycat June 20, 2012 at 02:58 PM
After every suicide since I have lived here - the kids all know these deaths are suicides (and there also have been suicide attempts) even though it is not published anywhere - Pine-Richland emails out generic offers for counseling. The problem is that many parents have no idea that a suicide occurred, and may not realize that their own kid has been affected. Being more direct may embarrass the district but suicide awareness and prevention are more important. There have been at least 3 teen suicides in the past few years and that is significant. When my son was bullied in 3rd grade at PR, we got the "boys will be boys" line, and many other parents have had similar things happen across all the schools. When kids want to join in a game at recess and are refused, then the aide/whoever in charge should make them all stop playing, not say she cannot make the mean kids let other kids join in. There are many social skills classes to "fix" the shy kids that take up lunches and recesses and make them stand out even more as unusual, but when we suggested that there be similar classes for the bullies - e.g. the girls who are always having high drama and many tears, the boys who are mean, the obnoxious kids who tease and exclude others - we got hung up on, literally.
Elizabeth June 20, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I dont think one thing was mentioned about the attempted suicide to the Middle School kids. I know nothing was sent to the High School parents. While i believe privacy is very important for the family, the students at school (middle and High School)know whats going on, and to try and act like nothing happened, is awful, especially to the kids in that class. Instead of having counselors on hand for one on one with the students, they should have some type of assembly were everyone is together and talked to as a group.
crosbycat June 20, 2012 at 06:35 PM
There may have been an email offering help- i cannot see old emails on droid- but not specific if there was one. There was a mental health speaker in spring but topic was not clear; it could have been mental health, mental illness or something else. Since prsd emails go to parents not kids they should be forthright. This seemed like a high number of events so i did some research and it is. One suicide help org recommended being open to teens but careful not to glamourize or give too many specifics.
Susan M. June 21, 2012 at 02:09 AM
My daughter is constantly being told at recess that she isn't allowed to join in with a particular group of girls on the playground. I went to the school for another bullying episode and brought this up, and nothing has changed. These girls are also in her Girl Scout troop and she is left out there, also. It's very sad, it breaks my heart, and I have repeatedly told my daughter to NEVER exclude anyone. She comes home crying everyday because of this and I don't know what to do. I keep telling her that next year will be a new start because there will be "nicer" girls coming from Hance and Wexford to Eden Hall. Frankly, I think the girls at Richland Elementary are pathetically stuck on themselves. I wonder where that comes from? If I EVER was told that my daughter was bullying, or excluding someone, that would be the LAST time she did that. Trust me.
Kelly Burgess June 21, 2012 at 11:28 AM
We lost a relative to suicide a few years ago. It was one of the most terrible things that has ever happened in our family and there is not a day that goes by that my husband and I don't think: "Could we have done something?" The fact is that suicide is almost never just one thing or event. Depression can make things that, to those of us who do not suffer from it, seem insurmountable to those who do. As for "bullying," I know it was not the main issue in at least two of these cases, so don't assume it was. While you may not like your daughter being excluded from a particular group, is that really bullying? Yes those girls are snots, but can we really walk up to a group of kids and say, "You'd better play with and like my child, or else?" And can we really expect the playground monitors to micro-manage every group's play time? As for special classes, both of you are on other forums saying that PR wastes money on nonsense classes and programs, such as world languages, and yet you want to implement classes to deconstruct clique behavior? This is how human beings act. It is part of what we are. Help your children find a group that does accept them, rather than wanting to be part of one that wants nothing to do with them. Also, this is not a high number of events, per population, and, yes, there was an email.
crosbycat June 21, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I know there were rumors that it was family issues for 1 of the 3 known suicides, but I thought that was put out by insiders just to protect the district. Four suicides in Mentor OH over more years recently got a lot of press. YES YES YES I think the people who are supposed to "care intensely" about each child - as the former mission statement said - like teachers and aides and helpers should be getting to know the kids and intervening. You break up the game if they will not include everyone, send them inside to write about kindness, give them a job, call their parents. Just do something. As for adding a Social Skills class for these outgoing high maintenance bully-type kids - that's just part of the Guidance Counselors job. No added cost needed. I noticed the Board documents do not say how much Olweus costs, but I bet its a bundle and a complete waste of money with people with "oh well what can we do" attitudes like yours! In just about every national story of bullying, the parents went to the school and the school acted as if there was nothing they could do.
crosbycat June 21, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Ran out of room again - Susan, I am so sorry that your daughter is having a hard time. You are her best advocate, and you are not wrong or misguided to expect adults around these girls to intervene both at school and in Girl Scouts. Not everyone at PR ignores these issues - we had one great 2nd grade Wexford teacher who got on my son's bus and corrected some 3rd graders for name calling. She was confident and authoritative and it never happened again. And at Eden Hall we had more bus problems and I asked the Guidance Counselor for help and she knew who the problem kid was and got the bullying to stop. I hope next year your daughter will be with a better group of kids, and I hope that the school will keep her with her friends and away from those bad girls. Its very hard on the kids to have to start over with friendships year after year, but it happens because the prevailing theory in education now is if you mix everyone up and prevent "best friends" from forming, the kids will all be more social and there will be less bullying.
Kelly Burgess June 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
You should not listen to rumors. If you don't know the families, you should not speculate at all. As for bullying, name-calling is bullying and should be dealt with firmly and unequivocally. Choosing not to play with someone is a personal choice. Not all behavior you don't like, or that makes your child feel sad, is bullying. There's only so much the school can do to make everyone skip happily through recess hand-in-hand singing "Make New Friends, Keep the Old." We can't regulate every single childhood behavior to fit our definition of "nice."
Susan M. June 21, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Kelly, I am very offended by your comment. I did not say I wanted the school to "make the girls play with my daughter"...I did say I was at the school for a true bullying incident and this was also brought up. Maybe I was venting because I get frustrated by some of the behavior these girls exhibit, but I was not looking for PR to make my daughter popular!! We can NOT blame the schools for this behavior. We absolutely can blame the PARENTS for this behavior!! Teach your kids right from wrong. Simple.
Kelly Burgess June 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM
You said, "I went to the school for another bullying episode and brought this up, and nothing has changed." The implication being that you expected the school administrators to take some action. The next commenter interpreted that the same way, as she said, "you are not wrong or misguided to expect adults around these girls to intervene both at school and in Girl Scouts…" We can agree that kindness begins at home, and so does taking responsibility. I jumped on to this thread because I was disturbed by the way the school district was being blamed for issues that have nothing to do with them. It's nice that PR provides counseling when something happens to a child in their district, but, that's not really their job nor are they responsible for tragedies that happen outside the halls of the school, any more than they would be responsible if a child was in a car accident on Route 8. You can be assured that PRSD would love to eradicate bullying, and not just bullying, but all behaviors that are a distraction in the classroom: disruptive or rude behavior, tired, hungry or poorly-prepared children, and children who suffer from mental illnesses or have disturbing home lives that make it difficult for them to concentrate. There's only so much a school can do: kids are only there for 7 hours.
crosbycat June 28, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Here is an article to educate Kelly on emotional bullying, and since Pine-Richland wants to be involved in all aspects of our children (e.g character development per the 2010-2011 calendar, citizenship), it is their responsibility to provide a safe environment for our kids. http://education.families.com/blog/social-exclusion-at-school-emotional-bullying

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