Wayne County school officials, community offer support after recent student suicides

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Teen suicide is bringing the Wayne County community together after a high school freshman’s death this week.

So far this year, three people in the community have taken their own lives.

According to Dr. Reggie Burgess of the Wayne County Board of Education, counselors from all county schools have been available this week at Wayne County High School (WCHS) to speak with students and offer grief counseling.

And on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m., the community is invited to Unity Church of God at 1580 Sunset Boulevard in Jesup where grief counselors will be on hand to offer resources for students and families looking for support.

According to the coroner, two Wayne County High School (WCHS) students and one alum have committed suicide this year.

A 14-year-old WCHS student died earlier this week. About two weeks ago, a 26-year-old graduate committed suicide in Jesup.

And in Washington County, about six weeks ago, a 16 or 17-year-old student died. According to the coroner, the teen was visiting a family member and committed suicide.

School officials and church members want to create an environment for honest discussion between teenagers and adults to prevent another suicide in the small community.

“We have the parent of a child who committed suicide just, a few weeks ago. His dad is coming,” Unity Church of God Associate Pastor Shelby Wilson said of the meeting Thursday.

“He’s going to address the people and he’s going to talk about the impact it has on the parents and try to be a voice for the parents of these young people out there and let them know this is not to, this is not a solution,” she added.

The meeting at the church is geared to students like WCHS Junior Chelton Burk who was acquainted with two of the three students who took their lives.

He’s hoping the meeting can get people talking to identify those who need help.

“We just kind of want to give adults an idea and our thoughts as to why things happen the way they do. Why we think the way we think and things we do,” Chelton said. “Because our generation is way different from older people’s… and I think we face more problems and go through more stress than adults did during this time.”

The student says the untimely deaths are teaching one of the toughest life lessons to teens.

“You can walk down the hallway at your school, and every single person that you look at may have a smile on their face. But then deep down inside, they may be going through something that you know nothing about,” said Chelton. “I think with the suicides back to back, it really shows us that you just have to be there for your friends.”

Dr. Burgess said counselors and representatives from several faith-based organizations will remain on campus to speak with students who might need help.

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