The poor, little rich kids of Silicon Valley schools
Alittle over a year ago, on November 4, 2014, teachers at Henry M Gunn School in Palo Alto, made an announcement to their students. Cameron Lee, a popular student, had committed suicide. The Gunn School is one of two public schools in Palo Alto. The other is Palo Alto High. The 10-year suicide rate for the two high schools is between four and five times the national average. “Twelve percent of Palo Alto high-school students surveyed in the 2013-14 school year reported having seriously contemplated suicide in the past 12 months,” writes Hanna Rosin at The Atlantic.
Places like these schools are called ‘suicide clusters’, where members of an University of California schools, which are notoriously competitive these days. It is an extreme distillation of what parents in the meritocratic elite expect from a school. The opportunities are limitless and the competition is tough and the pleasant chatter among the parents concerns chances for enrichment,” writes Rosin. But the expectations from students are just too high.
A large part of it is that affluence can be dangerous. According to Suniya Luthar, an assistant profesor of psychiatry at Yale, there is a U-shaped curve in pathologies among children, by class. At each extreme — poor and rich — kids are showing unusually high rates of dysfunction. Rich kids, says Luthar, have higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse on average than poor kids, and much higher rates than the national norm.
DEALING WITH IT:
Students post positive messages on the steps of Gunn school