String of Suicides

Rancho Cucamonga High School. Photo by Eric Montes

Rancho Cucamonga High School. Photo by Eric Montes


On the first week of August, a string of suicides stunned the Rancho Cucamonga community, where four students’ lives were taken away since returning to a new school year.

The first incident was on August 6, when the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department received a call from a family member about a 10-year-old boy’s death. When they arrived, the family members and the deputies tried to revive the boy who had hanged himself, but it was too late. On August 13, the fire department responded to two calls from two different locations where two 15-year-old girls hanged themselves. When the paramedics showed up on the scene, they saw the two deceased girls hanged on the bedroom ceiling. On August 19, the fire department responded to another call of a 16-year-old boy who hanged himself from the bathroom curtains. When they showed up, they tried to revive him, but it was too late.

Cindy Bachman, a public information officer from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, said in a statement that none of the students who committed suicide knew each other, nor did they have an apparent link. Bachman also said that they didn’t find any evidence of foul play or involvement of other parties.

The three students attended Etiwanda High School, Rancho Cucamonga High School, and Alta Loma High School, and the youngest student attended Victoria Groves Elementary School. The Chaffey Joint Union High School District sent emails out to parents to inform them about the incident.

“There is no greater tragedy than the death of a young person, and since the start of the school year, our Chaffey District community has been shaken by the loss of three students to suicide … Our district and site teams have been in close communication with their families and love ones and offer our deepest sympathies and continued support”

Mathew Holton, superintendent of CJUHSD, deployed therapists to the school to assist grieving students and staff. Holton also sent mental health professionals to each school. The professions are now working to improve services throughout the school year. “These services will focus on suicide, bullying, and use of social media" says Holton.

While professionals are informing students about mental health, Holton says parents also play an important role.

Students and teachers have shown respect by wearing yellow and red in honor of their fellow classmates that have committed suicide. On Twitter, students and teachers posted their support for the friends and family who lost their loved ones.

“On behalf of @MontclairCavs we send our love and support to our @EtiwandaRed family! Your are in our thoughts and prayers.”

In Colorado, a 9-year-old student of Joe Shoemaker Elementary School killed himself according to authorities.

Jamel Myles was a fourth-grade student who committed suicide on August 27,2018 when he told his mother he was gay.

“My child died because of bullying. My baby killed himself,” Leia Pierce, the boy’s mother, told The Denver Post on August 27. “He didn’t deserve this. He wanted to make everybody happy even when he wasn’t. I want him back so bad.”

Pierce said her son came out as gay this June and began wearing fake fingernails on August 20. Pierce found Jamel’s body and unsuccessfully tried to revive him.

According to The Denver Post, the school district counselors have met with students, teachers, and school staff who are hurt. Teachers have called parents of fourth and fifth graders to inform them of the situation.

“Fourth and fifth grade teachers at Shoemaker are creating a space for students to share how they are feeling and to process their emotions after hearing this news”

Pierce said her son was a considerate child who had dreams of becoming a social media star

. “He said ‘Mom I want to be a YouTube star, so I could buy you a new house’” she said “he was the kindest soul.”

If you or a loved one are considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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