Suicide Fallout

By: Amy Morris
By: Amy Morris

Suicide happens more often then anyone likes to think about. With an apparent suicide pact leading to the deaths of two local teens, many area schools are reaching out to their students.

Students and teachers from at least three area schools are grieving after the loss of two local teens. Adults are trying to take the focus off the apparent suicide and put it on the fallout from such a final decision.

Sue Harrell, Surfside Middle Principal, says, "This is the first time most of these kids have had to deal with the death of a contemporary. It rocks their world, it makes them ask questions."

Ashlyn Pecori had only been there a few months, but she already had tons of friends. Her boyfriend, Jeremy Hightower, left students and staff at New Horizons Learning Center stunned and confused after he and Ashlyn were found dead Monday.

Tuesday, the medical examiner confirmed the youngsters both died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. While the ultimate end may seem like the answer for some, it's the ones left behind who struggle with unanswered questions.

Bay district school counselors spent the day trying to help kids through their grief.

Mimi Bozarth, Bay schools psychologist, says, "Confusion is right, but we try to focus on the positive things in their lives."

But suicide is a touchy subject for most people, and educators have to be watchful for other students who may be considering the same route.

Darrell Priest, school resource deputy, says, "We try not to glorify them in any way. We don't want them to be the center of attention, but we still have to talk about it."

Educators say they can offer counselors, but kids’ strongest support comes from home and it's okay to be nosy to find out how your child is doing if you are concerned.

Ashlyn spent most of her middle school career at Mowat in Lynn Haven. Students there also have grief counselors on hand to help them through.


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