Southgate middle school healing from student's suicide asks classmates to stop wearing memorials

Published On: Apr 11 2013 10:02:48 AM EDT
SOUTHGATE, Mich. -

School officials at a Southgate middle school where an eighth-grade student committed suicide are taking a new step they say will help his classmates move past the incident.

Davidson Middle School has sent a letter to parents saying Friday is the last day students will be allowed to wear any clothing and bracelets created to memorialize Tyler Nichols.

The 13-year-old was found in a school bathroom on March 21.

Superintendent William Gruesekci told Local 4 that staff, teachers and counselors have worked tirelessly to help students cope with the death and that this next step is part of the healing process.

“We need to discourage memorial clothing as it may result in the glamorization of the death and glorification of suicide,” the letter states.

The letter also states research from various national suicide and school psychologist organizations shows allowing “continued visual reminders of the tragedy can lead to decreases in cognitive function and the ability to attend, focus, retain, recall and to process information, which are primary learning functions.”

Gruesekci said any student who is found to still be wearing anything in Nichols’ memory will first be given more counseling before any further action is taken.

A copy of the letter is below:

The purpose of this announcement is to let you know that Friday, April 12th, 2013 will be the last day that we will allow students to wear any apparel items related to memorialize Tyler. Based on research from the American Association of Suicidology, National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children by allowing students to continue to give exposure to the tragedy, it creates concerns due to continued visual reminder of what happens and it can lead to decrease in cognitive function, ability to attend, focus, retain, and recall, and the ability to process information- primary learning functions.

While it may help some students cope with a loss of a friend, we also must be cognizant of all our students and staff and it is likely to be traumatizing for some students as well as staff.

As a school we recognize the need to assist students and staff with the grieving process, it is also crucial to recognize the need to reduce suicide contagion.

Suicide contagion occurs when suicidal behavior is imitated and can be minimized by avoiding sensationalism or giving unnecessary attention to the suicide.

Based on this research and recommendations from these highly recognized organizations, we need to discourage these behaviors as it may result in the glamorization of the death and glorification of the suicide victim.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the school administration.

Thank you in advance for your understanding in this matter.

Dennis Kemp, Principal

Davidson Middle School

Southgate Community School District

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