News

Paly student dies Thursday afternoon

Officials plan no statements, but news spreads quickly among students

A Palo Alto teenager died by suicide at a Palo Alto residence Thursday afternoon, police confirmed today.

The Palo Alto High School senior was reported to have attended Jordan Middle School and Gunn High School as well as Paly.

Police and school officials said they do not plan to issue statements about the death.

News of the death spread immediately among classmates through electronic media, such as Facebook.

Palo Alto Police Chaplain Paul Bains met with Paly students gathered at Stanford Hospital.

A rumor circulated among Palo Alto students that a second teenager had died by suicide on the Caltrain tracks Thursday. But police said Friday that those rumors are false.

School and city officials, community agencies and faith groups rallied to create Project Safety Net, a coalition to address issues of teen mental health and well being.

Project Safety Net resources include a list of crisis hotlines. A local suicide hotline number is 650 494-8420.

Other local resources are the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Adolescent Counseling Services at 650 424-0852.

Psychological researchers say that in up to 90 percent of deaths by suicide, the victim had suffered from a diagnosable mental illness, such as depression, for at least a year.

Comments

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Posted by gailfran
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:02 am

My family learned of this last night. We are all very sad and confused over the loss. [She] was a smart, vibrant young lady...losing her is such a loss for us all. My child was a friend of [hers] and she as well as her fellow Paly students are taking [the] death hard. We are all trying to make some sense of it.

Our heart, love and prayers go out to [the] family during the very difficult time.


Like this comment
Posted by Bill Johnson
publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:16 am

Bill Johnson is a registered user.

Our decision to publish this story came after extensive internal discussion and was based on our assessment of how widespread news of this death had already become among the teens in the community. We felt that it was important for adults in the community to be aware that their high school children in all likelihood have heard about it, so they can decide whether to engage their children in discussion. Per our policy regarding suicides that occur in private, we are not publishing the name of the student nor any background information unless the parents wish that to happen.

In commenting, please do not name the student and please do not speculate about the reasons. Such comments will be removed. Any discussions about issues and pressures that teens in the community may face should be discussed in a separate topic in Town Square.

We ask posters to realize that the family and friends are grieving and that comments should respect their privacy.


Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

This is a tragedy. Our thoughts, prayers and tears are with the family and friends of this young woman.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunn Class of '67
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

Gunn Class of '67 is a registered user.

Despite the laudable efforts -Chris Kenrick authored on December 2, 2010, we have yet another tragedy. Heartbreaking. Thank you Chris and Principals Mililken, Brown, Bussman, O'Connell and others for your proactivity. Is it possible to extend such support for all students at all grade levels?


Like this comment
Posted by momof2
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm

momof2 is a registered user.

I feel so sad for the victim's family, my son and all of her other friends. She was a sweet girl with a lot of promise.

Hopefully the kids can support each other through this.


Like this comment
Posted by Brian Guth-Pasta
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Brian Guth-Pasta is a registered user.

I was with her hours before this tragic event happened. :( You will always be a friend and very much missed. We had a great time at the Dance Club, RIP.


Like this comment
Posted by pnk0525
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

pnk0525 is a registered user.

My work teaching Stanford undergraduates and medical students introduced me to Query Persuade Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training: Web Link
As a parent of 3 children at Gunn High School, I believe it is important to legitimize the conversation that situational stress (academic, interpersonal, parental) may induce dysphoria, depression and suicidal ideation. Individuals should be encouraged to share, not hide, their pain, and when concerns are detected, there should be clear referral pathways to bring supportive, trained professional help to intervene. Early intervention to improve coping reserves and resilience might help communities preserve the lives of their members.


Like this comment
Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Jan 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

As noted in the story above, for anyone who missed it:

A rumor circulated among Palo Alto students that a second teenager had died by suicide on the Caltrain tracks Thursday. But police said Friday that those rumors are false.


Like this comment
Posted by PAAlumnus
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm

PAAlumnus is a registered user.

RIP cousin, you will be sorely missed.


Like this comment
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Michele Dauber is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by chairs
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:34 pm

chairs is a registered user.

I am very sorry to hear about this, and although I do not know who the student is, I am praying for her spirit, and her friends and family.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I can't imagine what the loved ones of the latest are going through. I am so very sorry.


Like this comment
Posted by SouthPA
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm

SouthPA is a registered user.

It seems clear to me the comments are being removed because we were kindly asked above:

"In commenting, please do not name the student and please do not speculate about the reasons. Such comments will be removed. Any discussions about issues and pressures that teens in the community may face should be discussed in a separate topic in Town Square."

My condolences to the family and friends of the student and I hope we all find healing in all the love that is in our community.


Like this comment
Posted by scoop
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 15, 2011 at 11:07 am

scoop is a registered user.

Referring to the article by posted by pnk0525, a resident of Stanford:
My work teaching Stanford undergraduates and medical students introduced me to Query Persuade Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training.

The Staff at Gunn recently received training in this technique,I agree with pnk0525, it provides a good three step framework, one---initiating a "difficult" discussion(Query), two---persuading them to get help (Persuade),and the all important Referral, which is making sure that they get immediate help from a professional.

I didn't have any luck with the link suggested above...but QPR is a worthwhile starting point for all of us.


Like this comment
Posted by Carroll Harrington
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Carroll Harrington is a registered user.

Bill, thank you for your background comment.

My neighbor across the street committed suicide the Saturday before his son was to graduate from Paly. I learned that people who want to commit suicide often make up their mind two or three weeks in advance, and they are so pleased at having made a decision that they don't seem depressed. Keep a special place in your heart for her to help fill that hole that never really gets filled.

My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.


1 person likes this
Posted by local gurl
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm

local gurl is a registered user.

I lost a sibling to suicide nine months ago and he was the most unlikely person his many friends and all of our family would have ever expected to take such an action. I have found the beginnings of understanding in a book entitled, "No Time To Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One" by Carla Fine. I will never truly know why but I hope I can someday forgive myself and him.

My condolences to the family of this young girl and to all of her friends and family in the Palo Alto community and beyond.


Like this comment
Posted by julie brody
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm

julie brody is a registered user.

This is very tragic. My heart aches for this beautiful child and her family and friends. We must all find a way to support our teens. There is a wonderful organization called Breakthrough the Static at Web Link, or 415-501-0710. This organization was started to support teens who've lost a loved one to suicide.


Like this comment
Posted by julie brody
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm

julie brody is a registered user.

One more attempt! Web Link


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