BEND, Ore. - (Update: Adding Redmond HS principal's letter home to parents on a student's death)
The principal of Summit High School sent a letter to parents on Friday, confirming word from a student's family that he had died by suicide and offering suggestions on how to talk with their children and resources that can help in such times of grief and loss.
Here is that letter, in full:
Dear Summit Family,
Today one of our families experienced the loss of their child. Our hearts are broken for them and we are reaching out with support.
At school today we offered solace, compassion and a safe place to grieve, supported by our counselors and the Tri-County Response Team.
Counselors will be available for those wanting or needing follow-up and support next week.
If you want more information please see the attached letter to our community.
This would be another good time to let your child know how much you love them and appreciate them being part of your lives.
Summit High School, Principal
2855 NW Clearwater Dr.
Bend, Or 97703
December 15, 2017
Dear Summit High School Families,
It is with great sadness that I am writing to inform you that I just met with Deshaun Adderley’s family (a Freshman at Summit High School), who confirmed that Deshaun has passed away. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to his family, friends and the entire Summit High School community.
Deshaun’s father said that the suicide last night followed a convergence of many factors in his life and his struggles.
Deshaun’s family wanted to share this loss with you as your child may have questions or may want to process his/her thoughts with you about this at home. For some students, a sit-down, face-to-face discussion is too intense, it can even be frightening and overwhelming for them. A good way for students to express their feelings may be through an expressive project such as writing, art, music or other creative endeavor, and just processing their feelings with those they love. You can help your child process their feelings at home by letting them talk about loss. They may want to talk about Deshaun, concerns for other students’ safety or their own mental health. Everyone works through grief a little differently and needs to find their own way.
We are working with our Tri-County Response Team, which is made up of trained mental health professionals, in order to support students and staff experiencing grief and loss. They have been here all day, supporting students, making artwork for the family and giving students a place to connect with each other.
Please understand, it is important to be thoughtful when talking about suicide or death with students. Rather than focusing on the details of Deshaun’s death, we want to focus on listening, asking clear questions to students and referring those experiencing social and emotional issues to professionals for support.
I am including information about suicide and some talking points that may be helpful to you in discussing this issue with your student. You can also click here for a list of school and community resources should you feel your child is in need of additional assistance. If you need immediate assistance, call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also have your student contact the Oregon Youthline (a free, confidential teen-to-teen crisis and help line; supervised teens are available 4 to 10 p.m. daily; adults available all other times) by calling 1-877-968-8491 or texting “teen2teen” to 839863.
Please help us empower our students to talk about suicide and depression in productive, meaningful ways and show them where to find resources. Together, we can help address conversations about suicide prevention, how to find resources in our community that support youth and adults through stressful times, and how to help our children navigate current entertainment in ways that facilitate increased parent-child communication around youth suicide and youth suicide prevention.
At Summit High School we have employed a School Support Specialist with experience in student emotional and mental health concerns. We have also increased our counseling support this year for our students. If your student expresses a need for support please contact your child’s counselor. We will have on-going support for students.
The family has finalized their service plans. There will be a Celebration of Life, Saturday Dec. 23 at 2pm, at Mission Church, 61303 S Hwy 97. Cards and letters are welcomed. If you would like to support the family with funeral expenses at this time, they ask that you give directly to their church, Mission Church, using this link. (Editor's note: Click "give online" in the upper right of the church's home page, then "Quick Give" without needing to log in, and choose "Other" in the dropdown box, as the church assures donations will be used for that purpose.)
We will miss Deshaun greatly, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and their extended community.
Principal, Summit High School
Redmond High School also was having an "incredibly difficult" day Friday, in the wake of a student's death, according to its principal.
Here's a letter sent home to parents by Principal Paul Nolan:
December 15, 2017
Dear Redmond High School Parents and Guardians,
It is with deep sadness that I report to you the tragic loss of one of our 11th grade students. Teachers shared this information with their classes this morning.
As you can imagine, today was incredibly difficult for our school community. Our main priority was to respond with loving support to students -- whether they wanted to talk with an adult, or with friends, or participate in school as usual. We had a support room in the library, where students could drop by and visit with counselors and be in a quiet, reflective environment.
Even if your student didn't know the student who passed away, your child may exhibit emotions attached to this loss. For many students, it brings up past losses of people or pets. For others, it may result in the fear of losing a loved one. I encourage you to talk with your student tonight, and let us know if we can provide additional support.
Our school community is a family and family supports one another. Please be assured that we are here for your student, and that you are welcome to contact us with any questions or concerns.