Lo­cal deputies re­spond to sui­cide threats

The Signal - - FRONT PAGE - By Jim Holt Sig­nal Se­nior Staff Writer See SUI­CIDE, A5

On Wed­nes­day, a Sau­gus High School stu­dent sent a text to friends that he was go­ing to kill him­self.

On Tues­day, a Va­len­cia High School stu­dent sent a text to friends that she was go­ing to kill her­self by jump­ing off a bridge.

Both stu­dents, for­tu­nately, were lo­cated promptly

be­fore any harm was done, largely thanks to texts sent by con­cerned friends of both stu­dents to sher­iff’s deputies who re­sponded im­me­di­ately.

Septem­ber is Sui­cide Preven­tion Aware­ness Month and al­ready - not even half way through the month - deputies with the Santa Clarita Val­ley Sher­iff’s Sta­tion re­main busy re­spond­ing to the threat of sui­cides, at­tempted sui­cides and sui­cides car­ried out.

Last week, on Sept. 6, a 20-year-old Pa­narama City man took an Uber ride to the Oak Tree Gun Club, bought some am­mu­ni­tion, rented a shot­gun and shot him­self.

Whether it’s Sui­cide Preven­tion Aware­ness Month, or any other month, deputies and coun­selors are tak­ing sui­cide se­ri­ously.

“Yes, both of those in­ci­dents oc­curred,” Depity Christo­pher Craft said, re­fer­ring to the Sau­gus and Va­len­cia high school sui­cide threats.

“This is­sue is ex­tremely im­por­tant,” he said.

“We take these in­ci­dents se­ri­ously and pull in as many re­sources that we need, so we can lo­cate miss­ing peo­ple who are con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide and get them the ap­pro­pri­ate help that they need,” Craft said.

Stu­dents - whether they at high school or col­lege - are un­der “way too much stress - at home, at school, from par­ents and sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers,” said Priscilla Ben­ites who helps stu­dents in need at the Col­lege of the Canyons’ Health and Well­ness Cen­ter.

“At high school, if some­thing hap­pens with bul­ly­ing, it’s sud­denly wide­spread,” Ben­ites said Thurs­day, re­flect­ing the power of so­cial me­dia. “The bul­ly­ing is not kept be­tween the bully and the vic­tim, now it’s put out there for ev­ery­one to see.

“I’ve seen young peo­ple die be­cause of the ad­vent of so­cial me­dia,” she said.

Ben­ites, how­ever, has one more text each trou­bled young per­son should log into their cell phones - a newly cre­ated cri­sis text line.

The text is sim­ply use of the word “courage.” Any­one want­ing help can text the word ‘Courage” to 741741 and get im­me­di­ate help in a re­ply text.

For par­ents, Ben­ites has a piece of ad­vice for them.

“Par­ents must keep a watch­ful eye on their kids’ so­cial me­dia ac­counts,” she said. “We have to make sure that they are in­ter­act­ing with who they say they’re in­ter­act­ing.

“Be­cause not only do we have to worry about cy­ber-bul­ly­ing but about pe­dophiles,” she said.

On two days in May, more than one thou­sand col­or­ful paper lanterns cov­ered COC’s Honor Grove in homage to the 1,100 U.S. col­lege stu­dents who lost their lives to sui­cide dur­ing the past year. The “Shine A Light” event acts as a vis­ual rep­re­sen­ta­tion the stu­dents who lost their lives to sui­cide dur­ing the past year.

Ben­ites, who helped with the “Shine A Light” event, was aware of Wed­nes­day’s search for the de­spon­dent Sau­gus teen.

“The ad­vance­ment of tech­nol­ogy saved his life,” she said of Wed­nes­day’s Sau­gus teen. “He texted ‘good­bye’ to his friends, all the kids, let­ting them know.

“Those kids were able to send Sher­iff’s deputies out look­ing for him,” she said.

The boy was found alone but safe and alive - at Cen­tral Park.

Katharine Lotze/The Sig­nal

A bird sits on top of a lan­tern in the Honor Grove at Col­lege of the Canyons for the “Shine a Light” dis­play for sui­cide preven­tion and aware­ness on May 2017.

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