According to information presented to Elmore County Board of Education members by Rashawn Blassingame, Elmore County Schools special education supervisor/mental health lead, there were 27 instances of suicide threats and five attempted suicides in Elmore County for the month of August 2019.
As for statewide figures published by Alabama Center for Health Statistics, 788 citizens were lost to suicide in 2016 as compared to 543 deaths due to homicide.
“(Elmore County Schools superintendent) Mr. (Richard) Dennis had a vision for the mental health of our students,” Blassingame said. “We want our students to know their mental health matters to us.”
That initial vision established by Dennis set Blassingame in motion to eventually land Wetumpka High School on a list as the only high school in the state selected to participate in a program promoted by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and the National Council for Behavioral Health called teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA).
“Parents are grasping for any help they can get to help their children,” Dennis said.
Also at the meeting Chris Ankers and Caleb Whorton were recognized by Dennis and IT services director Barbara Burchard for volunteering to assist Houston County’s school board after a recent cyber security breech.
“These two took the time to share their experience to help,” Dennis said. “They didn’t have to but they did. We’re really blessed to have the support of IT Services team.”
Elmore County has 11 IT professionals on its roster whereas Houston County has two IT professionals on its staff.
Other business at Tuesday’s school board meeting included:
• 11,214 students are enrolled in public school for the 2019-2020 school year.
• The board unanimously approved the fiscal year 2020 budget. Board member Kitty Graham was absent.
• Dennis is gathering bids to purchase more buses that will expand Millbrook routes.
• Dennis spoke about the bomb threat that was called into Wetumpka High School Sept. 12. Dennis said the school was back on schedule within an hour of the threat.