Woodson students hold unity rally following two student deaths
(WJLA) - At W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Va., administrators, teachers and students are trying to find answers, and trying to figure out how to deal with their tragic loss.
In the past few weeks, two Woodson students have died, making seven in the past four years.
All are suspected to have committed suicide.
On the front page of the school's website, there is a list of resources to help students deal with their loss.
"Two of them were my closest friends," Woodson student Thomas Lamb told ABC7. "We are trying to get through it the best we can."
Some say the school -- which regularly appears on top-ranking lists of schools such as those by U.S. News and the Washington Post -- is a pressure-cooker of sorts when it comes to social and academic performance.
The problem of suicide is not just affecting Woodson. Fairfax County police report 19 suicides in the county so far this year -- 15 of them involving teenagers.
That's why, this week, school resource and security officers, along with counselors and social workers, hosted two days of training on how to help prevent suicide.
"There are a lot of whys, and we don't have all the answers," said PTA president Penny Carey-Stratton. "We don't know if we will ever have all the answers."
"We've got to talk with our kids about mental health issues just like we talk with them about physical health issues," said John Madigan from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"[It's about looking] at someone who maybe is in that undecided phase...and point them to help," said Fairfax County Police Lt. Christian Quinn. "As parents, the most important thing we can do is talk with them about it, and provide some counter-weights."
At Woodson High School, the community has pulled together, and students have organized a rally to show their unity -- and as a means to heal.
"We want to take care of each other as we always have," said Woodson parent Cathy Connolly. "We are a great school."