Student suicide at Grandview High School prompts principal’s letter to parents

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AURORA | A Grandview High School student’s suicide prompted a letter Sunday to parents from the school principal.

The death comes on the heels of another earlier suicide by a 2018 Grandview graduate. Both girls were involved in cheerleading and other athletics at the school, according to family and friends.

Grandview Principal Lisa Roberts told Grandview parents, staff and students in a letter Sunday that senior Cameron Shelton died by suicide last week. Recent Grandview graduate Megan Roe died July 13.
While some observers drew a parallel to the deaths, school officials declined to comment on the timing.
“Our hearts are broken as we have another former athlete that has left this earth too soon,” Cheerleading team members said in a tweet on Sunday.  “Our thoughts and prayers are with Cameron’s family, friends, and former teammates.”

“We are devastated by the loss of one of our former athletes,” the team said in a tweet last week. “Megan was beautiful inside and out and was a great teammate and an even better friend”

Educators, coaches and parents underscore the importance of listening to students when they talk about stress or depression. Mental health supports are crucial for students who could be struggling with loss or mental health issues of their own.

“I am writing so that you may have conversations with your own student, if need be,” Roberts said in her letter to the school community. “Death by suicide is a complex issue and not due to one cause.”

School district officials declined to comment for this story.

News of the suicides has been widespread and prominent on social media posts among students in the area.

Grandview High School is closed for repairs, Roberts said, but counseling for grieving students is available at nearby Liberty Middle School. She also referred the school community to mental health crisis hotlines.

Colorado Crisis Services can be reached at 1-844-493-8255. Safe2Tell, a government-run hotline for school safety issues, can be reached at 1-877-542-7233.

Parents, teachers and educators in the region and state have struggled with a rash of student suicides in recent years. Colorado has a high rate of suicide, especially teen suicide.

In the statewide 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 17 percent of all responding middle and high school students reported considering suicide, and 7 percent reported making at least one suicide attempt in the prior year.

Suicide research suggests that youth suicides can “cluster” in a community, such as at a school, when several people attempt or commit suicide in quick succession. Last year, two Arapahoe High School students committed suicide within days of each other.

But Sarah Davidon, research director at Mental Health Colorado, said that individual suicide cases can vary widely, even in the same community.

She said that isolation and hopelessness can lead to mental health crises. Students who receive help and guidance can weather their adversity.

“There are people who care, and there is hope,” she said.

Educators in the Cherry Creek School District, which includes Grandview, and Aurora Public Schools have been diverting additional resources to mental health supports such as counseling for students. More counselors and psychologists are coming down the pike in Aurora Public Schools thanks to a voter-approved tax increase.

Roberts reiterated that supporting students can protect them.

“Please hug your children this weekend and enjoy these summer days with them,” she said. “Nothing is more important than our kids.”