6 Student Deaths Within 18 Months
Earlier this month, Jeff Yalden visited Clinton Prairie Junior-Senior High School in Frankfort, Indiana - a small rural community that has been hit hard with loss. Six students (including two alumni) lost their lives in the past 18 months. This figure doesn’t include losses in the surrounding communities.
In recent years, Indiana has been ranked number two in teen completed suicides, and Yalden continues to spend much of his time working across the state.
For two hours, students from grades 7-12 sat in the auditorium and listened as Jeff spoke about where they’ve been emotionally and what they are going through as they prepare to mark the one-year anniversary of a student’s suicide. There was a palpable sadness, and many of the upperclassmen planned on staying home from school on that anniversary.
Jeff arrived early and stayed for 15 hours. Having served as a U.S. Marine, he still embraces the “first in-last out” mindset, especially during difficult times like this.
Jeff connected with school staff and greeted the students as they entered the building. During the assembly, Jeff brought the students from where they were emotionally to where they needed to be, but first he was sure to address their losses and validate their feelings.
Teenagers aren’t supposed to go through pain like this or understand how to grieve when they lose a friend or a classmate, let alone six of them in a year-and-a-half – but they were having to deal with adult emotions because they experienced real-life loss in such a short period of time.
After the assembly, Jeff spent hours meeting one-on-one with teens asking for help or advice and visited with the students who were close to the young man who made the “forever decision.” He suggested that they attended school on the day of the one-year anniversary.
“Being home without trusted adults and having to process these feelings while isolating yourself isn’t helping you through the grieving process,” he said. “It isn’t a healthy place to be, but coming to school where you have your friends and supportive adults is the best place for everyone.”
Jeff talked to the teachers after school and congratulated them for being present as trusted adults on the day of the suicide. They found out about it while the students were in their classrooms and had to console them while dealing with the terrible news at the same time – without the opportunity to process it together first.
“You don’t need to be a mental health professional to have relationships with your students - to know how they are feeling and to encourage them to speak up,” he said. “Our teachers, coaches, and trusted adults are so much more to our youth than just educating them on curriculum.”
According to Jeff, our young people need to learn to open up and speak up about their thoughts and emotions. Jeff talked to the teachers about how to engage their students in a crisis situation and how to ask the questions about suicide.
That night, two communities came together for the parent and community presentation where Jeff talked about teen mental health, teens and social media, suicide prevention, and how teens are being raised today in broken environments. He encouraged parents to be more involved and to truly understand what today’s teens are facing.
Brochure : https://www.paperturn-view.com/?pid=NDI42657
Important Links on Jeff Yalden Website: https://www.TheJYF.org
Contact Page: https://thejyf.org/contact/
The Jeff Yalden Foundation, Inc. (Donate): https://thejyf.org/foundation/
TEDx Talk - https://youtu.be/nP_xXPvJctI
Tippecanoe Valley High School - https://youtu.be/rpfVjoYAgik
Barnard, MO - https://youtu.be/KAKnjeFyRR0