Responding to two suicides and at least one attempted suicide by Palo Alto teens last spring, local religious groups have joined to offer a "multifaith community response" with an Aug. 31 panel on "Supporting Our Teens" at Cubberley Theatre.
Supporting teens' "spiritual, mental, social and physical well-being as they begin the school year" will be the topic of an Aug. 31 multi-faith panel discussion at the Cubberley Community Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Road.
Palo Alto Mayor Peter Drekmeier will moderate the six-member panel, which will include representatives from Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Roman Catholic and Christian Science traditions.
After remarks from each panelist, the speakers will respond to questions from the community. To submit a question in advance, e-mail it to [email protected] by Sunday Aug. 30.
Several faith communities are organizing youth-only events open to all teens, which will be announced during the program.
Panelists will be the Rev. William Masuda of Palo Alto Buddhist Temple; Samina Faheem Sundas of the American Muslim Voice; Rabbi Janet Marder of Congregation Beth Am of Los Altos Hills; the Rev. David Howell of First Congregational United Church of Christ of Palo Alto; Sherry Cassedy of the Catholic Community of Palo Alto; and Eric Nelson of the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
Representatives from other faith traditions and local congregations will be available at the end of the program for further discussion.
"The forum is planned in part in response to the tragic teen suicides and suicide attempts at the end of the last school year, prompting faith leaders from diverse traditions to come together to offer care and support to the whole community," organizers said in an announcement.
The CalTrain suicides of Gunn High School students Jean Paul "JP" Blanchard and Sonya Raymakers in May and June, as well as at least one other attempted suicide, stunned the community and sparked a discussion of ways to improve the social-emotional health of teens.
Leaders in the Palo Alto Unified School District also are considering steps to address the issue, including convening teachers of the "Living Skills" classes required at both high schools to discuss the possibility of a common curriculum, and training teachers on ways to spot students who may be struggling.
For more information on the Aug. 31 panel, see www.multifaithpeace.org or call 650 569-3416.