Gunn High student dies by suicide | News | Palo Alto Online |


Gunn High student dies by suicide

Principal to parents: 'Listen, talk and answer questions honestly'

Editor's note: Resources for any person who is feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal are listed at the bottom of this article.

Gunn High School Principal Kathie Laurence, in an email to school families Tuesday afternoon, is urging parents to talk openly with their children and to reach out for help if needed following the death by suicide of a senior in his home on Tuesday.

Staff informed students who were still on campus for the last period of the day in person, Laurence said, and the school's crisis intervention team was available to students throughout the afternoon. The team, made up of mental health professionals, will "continue to be available for our students, teachers, and parents in the coming days," Laurence wrote.

Grief counselors, mental health therapists and psychologists will also be available to support children and teachers at the schools that the student's siblings attend, Superintendent Max McGee wrote in a message to Palo Alto Unified parents and staff Tuesday afternoon.

It's "imperative," he wrote, "for all of us to be vigilant and keep a close eye on our children and that our older students look after one another."

Laurence, who is in her first semester as the school's principal, also encouraged parents to talk "honestly" with their children and to reach out to the school, including its wellness center, with any questions or concerns.

"As a parent, I encourage you to listen, talk and answer questions honestly as your child processes this event and its impact," Laurence wrote. "If you notice any concerning changes in your student's behavior or emotional state, please contact a counselor or trusted faculty member.  

"We care deeply about every single member of the Titan community -- students, staff, and families -- and want to provide our support in every way possible," she said.

To reach the Gunn wellness center, call 650-354-8212. For more information, go to


Any person who is feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal can call 1-800-784-2433 to speak with a crisis counselor. People in Santa Clara County can call 1-855-278-4204. Spanish speakers can call 1-888-628-9454.

People can reach trained counselors at Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.

The link below provides more resources where one can receive help:

Resources: How to help those in crisis

Editor's note: While Palo Alto Online generally does not report on suicides that occur in private, school officials sent notices to families and we made the decision to publish this article so that other concerned community members are made aware of the death and will be able to assist students who are grieving. We have closed the story to comments.

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