Superintendent Addresses Rumored Suicide Pact

By Rachel Martin

November 20, 2012 Updated Oct 18, 2013 at 3:41 AM EDT

GARRETT, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – The superintendent of the Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community School District addressed parents about a rumored suicide pact among eighth graders at Garrett Middle School Monday night.

It was a spirited meeting Monday night as parents asked Superintendent Dr. Dennis Stockdale why they’re just now addressing the rumor of a suicide pact.

Dr. Stockdale claims he shared everything he knows from when the rumor began a week and a half ago. He says it started when a female student was found incoherent in the hallway. The student supposedly overdosed on prescription drugs in an attempt to kill herself.

The student was taken to the hospital and is currently recovering. In the meantime, administrators say they met with 30 students and parents collectively, who were rumored to be involved.

Parents like Tracey Klotz, who’s 14-year-old son is in 8th grade at Garrett M.S., say that female student is one of many on a "suicide pact list” and two others have since attempted suicide.

“There is a suicide pact going on whether the school wants to believe it or not,” said Klotz.

Dr. Stockdale says he has no evidence on whether a list actually exists or if the rumor is true. He says he didn’t alert all parents because he didn’t want to cause false alarm.

“When we had no credible information on a suicide pact rumor and out of respect of some of the parents that have been involved, we just made the decision at that point that until we got more information, we didn't want to send out false information into the community spurring more rumors,” said Dr. Stockdale. “If we would’ve had any information that there was a pact, and with some of the rumors that were going around that we investigated, clearly there was not a pact, it was an isolated case.”

Klotz says she would’ve rather been alerted about the rumor in the first place instead of waiting

“It is the school’s fault for not contacting parents ASAP, all of us, not just 30 of us. I’m saying it’s the school’s fault for him-hawing around and not wanting to answer straight forward questions,” said Klotz. “This school needs to quit sweeping things under the rug before somebody really does lose their life. Then what are they going to say, ‘oops sorry?’”

Dr. Stockdale says they're in the process of creating a suicide prevention and awareness program to educate and provide resources for students, parents, and the community on how to deal with these types of issues.

“We’re going to continue, daily, to have discussions with students, whether it’s drugs and alcohol or suicide. We’re going to continue to monitor kids and talk to them and track down any information they may have to help maintain the safety of our students,” he said. “We have to make sure that not only are we looking at their academic needs, but we’ve got to do all we can to work with them on their social needs.”

Dr. Stockdale says if something like this were to happen in the future, he would approach things differently. “It’s finding that fine line. If I did send stuff home and it caused a group of students to create something then we’d probably be having this same discussion. Maybe the way to look at it is here’s [the information] and let the parents decide.”

Dr. Stockdale says he plans to hold more community informational meetings in the future.

But the Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community School District isn’t the only one dealing with this issued. In the wake of a recent suicide and an attempt at Wawasee High School, administrators are holding a suicide prevention informational session to discuss reasons and signs of suicide to assist friends and parents.

The meeting will be in the Wawasee H.S. auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 20 from 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

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