Fifteen-year-old Hayden Porter passed away last week after committing suicide, one of six other students in his Ohio school district to kill themselves in the past six months.
According to CNN affiliate WJW, police were called more than 24 times over the past week regarding potential suicides. Chief Micheal Pomesky said that Perry Township, Ohio, is “in crisis.”Screenshot/Fox 8
“We pretty much went from no suicides to this.”
As Fox 8 reports, Hayden’s mother, Ashley Jones, said that she thinks that bullying at Perry High School had something to do with his death. Out of the blue, Hayden called her one day to get a ride home from school.
“There’s been some horrific, horrific things said on Snapchat that I truly believe that — they were doing something. And I know there was an incident I had to have my brother pick him up from school because he was scared that these four boys … was going to hurt him.”
According to WEWS, Hayden’s father, Shaun Porter, said that he and Hayden spoke the day the teen killed himself. Hayden reportedly said that “he was fine.”
“Got off the bus, we talked for 30 to 45 minutes. I never thought he would’ve done that that day.”
The six students who committed suicide over the past six months were between the ages of 14 and 18, including four high school students, a middle school student, and a high school graduate, Pomesky told WJW.
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the second highest cause of death of young people between the ages of 10 to 24 in 2015.
According to WBNS, police said that the school district’s suicides weren’t connected, but occurred because of the contagious aspect of suicide.
The Department of Health and Human Sevices (HHS) wrote:
Suicide contagion is the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one’s family, one’s peer group, or through media reports of suicide and can result in an increase in suicide and suicidal behaviors.
As a 2014 New York Times article explained:
The evidence suggests that suicide “outbreaks” and “clusters” are real phenomena; one death can set off others.
The New York Times reported that adolescents and young adults are particularly susceptible to this phenomenon and that “at least 5 percent of youth suicides are influenced by contagion.”
WJW reports that Melissa C. Mercado, a behavioral scientist, who works in the violence prevention department at the CDC, said:
“Suicide is a public health problem that has far-reaching consequences. Suicide impacts friends, family members, co-workers, communities and society.”
In a similar vein, Porter’s school district is trying to garner the support of the community to prevent future suicides in the area. According to WJW, the school district released a statement which read, in part:
We ask parents, residents, local organizations and everyone in the community to wrap around these young people to provide supports for those who are grieving and support for those that are dealing with difficult situations.
Perry Local Schools Superintendent Scott Beatty added:
“Know that our district will continue to work, we will not give up.”
Mercado told WJW that there are ways of helping young people who are vulnerable to suicide:
“[S]trengthening access to and delivery of suicide care, creating protective environments, promoting youth connectedness, teaching coping and problem-solving skills, and identifying and supporting at-risk youth.”
In an emotional interview with WJW, Jones urged young people contemplating suicide to reach out to an adult they trust She said:
“My goal is to make sure that no parent has to feel what I am feeling right now … Please tell somebody because [Hayden] didn’t tell us — maybe he was scared, I don’t know. but if something is going on, don’t be afraid [to] speak up.”
For more information on how to help someone who you suspect may be suicidal, check out the National Institutes of Health’s page on suicide prevention.
You can watch the WJW report about the teen suicides in Perry Township below.