School district, grief nonprofit partner for parent events | News | Palo Alto Online |


School district, grief nonprofit partner for parent events

Training to provide education on loss, mental health

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

The Palo Alto school district is partnering with local grief nonprofit Kara to host two educational nights for parents this and next week to help support families coping with the recent death by suicide of a student.

Jaymie Byron, Kara's director of community outreach and crisis response, will lead the Aug. 24 and Aug. 31 events. They are "intended to provide community members with additional skills to address their children's grief by developing a foundation of knowledge on grief, growing one's sense of compassion, and providing opportunities to reflect inward on one's own grief history," a description reads.

In a weekly message on Friday, Superintendent Max McGee wrote that the district decided to sponsor the parent nights after receiving inquiries from parents about how to talk to their children about depression, mental health and managing grief.

Through "psycho-education, experiential exercises" and group discussion, Kara hopes to help attendees recognize symptoms of grief, support others who are grieving and process feelings of loss.

Palo Alto-based Kara provides grief support for children, teenagers, families and adults through therapy, crisis support for schools, peer groups, including drop-in groups, and other services.

The events are open to all families and community members of the school district. Mandarin and Spanish interpretation will be available, and childcare will be provided.

The first event will take place on Thursday, Aug. 24, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, and the second on Thursday, Aug. 31, also at Cubberley at the same time.

The school district has also posted several documents online on suicide, mental health and grief to help parents, teachers and others support students. View them here.


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


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24 people like this
Posted by A Parent's View
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 21, 2017 at 4:19 pm

The recurrence of HS/teen suicides is very troubling and I am curious as to why these tragedies are more prevalent amongst Millennial adolescents when compared to earlier generations (e.g. GenXers and Baby Boomers).

I suspect that the earlier teen-aged generations had better methods of escaping and defusing the various (parental/social/emotional/scholastic) pressures that can easily create havoc in one's mind and personal life.

Some of these alternative/against the wind 'methods' worked quite well...even into adulthood.

24 people like this
Posted by Anoni
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Aug 21, 2017 at 6:21 pm

I wrote a Town Square thread about removing Max McGee by not renewing his contract a few months ago. I has warned readers repeatedly in the last year that we would have another incident and all the Save the 2008 emails in the world are not going to make a dent. The administration is ineffective, PAEA is absent in doing its part, and just when the Jorge Quintanas on the district payroll begin to signal that the PAUSD culture has been fixed, that is when we will have another incident. The sad part is that now we have to suppress the information underground and not name the incident. That practice alone is a sign of how sick this city is.

31 people like this
Posted by Avoiding the Pain 101
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 21, 2017 at 7:18 pm

> Some of these alternative/against the wind 'methods' worked quite well...even into adulthood.

Yep. (1) Don't stress about Ivy League admissions or getting into Cal. There is always Foothill College. (2) Don't stress about being an outcast. Just become part of an oddball clique. (3) Don't fall prey to Rx tranquilizers. Fire up the bong. (4) Don't 'keep academic score' with others. High School is only 4 years out of one's entire life and some folks will bloom later. (5) Tell your parents that if a 4.00+ GPA is all that important, they should re-enroll in HS and demonstrate how it's done. (6) Don't get tied-down exclusively to academics. Have other 'fun' outlets. (7) Don't be afraid to ponder or ask "WTF"? (8) Listen to more Grateful Dead and less Hip-Hop. (9) Play less video games and get some outdoor fresh air. (10) Joke around with your grandparents and ridicule your parents (if they are being unreasonable). (11) Read consciousness-expanding literature. (12) Realize that this may just be a bad parallel universe that you're currently stuck in and imagine better ones.

It doesn't take a psychologist. Just the ability to question things that don't feel right.

15 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 21, 2017 at 10:25 pm

The District’s info on Emergency Response to Suicidal Warning Signs states:
“If you are emailing with a serious and immediate concern regarding a student (yourself or a friend), please call 9-1-1 or PAPD at 650-329-2413.” I would like to add that if you need to call the police, please ask them to send out a CIT officer (who will have special crisis intervention training).
If the situation is not immediately life-threatening, there are alternatives;
In Santa Clara County, Uplift Family Services ( will send out a crisis counselor free of charge to help someone under 18 yrs of age. Just call the 24-hour crisis line: 408-379-9085 or 877-412-7474.
Anyone (including youth) who is voluntarily seeking help can go to the closest ER and they will assist you.
A new facility in south County, San Jose Behavioral Health (Web Link), offers the only inpatient adolescent hospital unit in Santa Clara County for ages 14 to 17 who are having a mental health crisis and accepts patients regardless of insurance coverage. Call the 24-hour line: 877-801-5455 or just walk-in 24/7.
The Resources link at the end of the above article lists contact info for providers who offer free or covered mental health assessments quickly.

9 people like this
Posted by Jon Keeling
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 22, 2017 at 3:53 pm

FYI- Cubberley is a fairly large place. I just spoke with someone in their office to check which room will be used. It's in the auditorium, which is fairly close to the street (where the temporary library was before it moved to Mitchell Park). Map is here: Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by Immigrant Parent
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm

It is important for our children to be successful both academically and professionally. It is a reflection of the family and its values. Our children understand that it is their obligation to provide for the elders as we have provided for them. Schooling is most important. We want our children to become doctors.

What is wrong with encouraging and stressing the importance of academics? [Portion removed.]

America provides more opportunity than any other country. To fail is to squander the opportunity.

Like this comment
Posted by Zhou Lin
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm

[Post removed.]

9 people like this
Posted by No Biggie/Just Chill
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Yes, the stress can get unbearable at times. There's a lot of competition from well-qualified HS students trying to get into the best colleges and universities.

Here's what I did...I busted my rear for 3-1/2 semesters (4.00) and took AP coursework. Scored well on the fall SATs and then got my transcripts and applications in as early as possible.

Started hearing from the colleges by the early spring and following the acceptances (5 of 7), I took an early vacation and 'flunked-out' the last semester (all D's and Fs) as the acceptances had already been determined. It was great!

36 people like this
Posted by Mei Mei
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2017 at 1:43 pm

There is a man from the PROC whose son was student at Gunn. He was one of the suicides during that horrible epidemic. He gave a speech at Cubberley about the pain and guiltiness he lives with since his son's suicide. He feels he helped cause it.

Now this man goes all over the Bay Area, to immigrant neighborhoods, telling parents not to pressure their children so much, like he did. He tells them that too many parents drive them to suicide because they are so afraid of shaming their families.

A friends daughter came to me at 24 Hour Fitness and I asked how school was. She said she hated it because she wanted to go to a different school and become a veternarian. But she is so scared of shaming her father, who will be mean to her mother if she does not go to medical school.

I told her I am very very tired of going to Chinese doctors who did not want to be doctors because they are not good doctors. I told her also that veterinarians make lots of money too, so change schools.

She told me her father will not pay for her to go to any school but Stanford or UCLA medical, and he will pretend he never had a daughter. She cried and cried, there in public.

29 people like this
Posted by Wei Jang
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 24, 2017 at 4:34 pm

My niece is currently in a vegetative state following an attempted suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning. She carried a 4.15 GPA through high school and completed AP courses in mathematics and science.

Her parents demanded that she become a cardiologist. She wanted to be an RN. Now she can be neither. So sad and the parents must be blamed for undue pressure and continual vocational harassment.

@Immigrant Parent - you are being too narrow-minded and stifling. Be careful what you wish for.

My children are 8-balls but they are happy little fools. They are in the minority (no pun intended).

23 people like this
Posted by Marlon Gonzalez
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 24, 2017 at 5:53 pm

I am grateful when my children complete high school and if higher education is their goal, I try to be supportive both financially and through encouragement.

I work as a landscape supervisor and would like to see my children get indoor jobs. It doesn't matter if they are schoolteachers, social workers or salespeople. Physical labor is hard and takes its toll on the body as one gets older. I went from leaf blower to clipboard but it took many years as I do not have a high school diploma.

The cultures that place undue pressure on their children in school are probably worshiping success symbols which is not good. Expensive cars, designer clothing and nice houses cannot buy happiness. Only self-fulfillment can.

28 people like this
Posted by Renegade and Shunned
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 24, 2017 at 6:12 pm

I was brought up to believe that fun things are to be taken as hobbies only and professional occupation is of the utmost importance.

I am a gerontologist. My family made me pursue that field in order to provide medical assistance to them and my grandparents later down the road. That plus a good income.

I hate being a doctor. Given the choice, I would much rather be a jazz musician. My parents even arranged a marriage for me and that was too much.

I refused to marry the woman and my decision brought shame to both families. The pressure never ends. It is like a bad rash.

Some children cannot handle this kind of pressure. It is too hard on their emotional state of mind.

I am currently involved with a beautiful and intellectual Afro-American woman who is also a physician. As a result, my family no longer welcomes me into their home or existence.

21 people like this
Posted by Out Here With You
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2017 at 6:35 pm

@Renegade and Shunned,

As a an Asian American, I want you to know that many of us other Asian Americans would be supportive of your decision to date and marry whoever makes you happy. Many of us are well educated, have grown up aware of race-ethnicity in this country, and have no problems with mixed marriages and gay marriage. There are many of us out here who are open minded and accepting. We might understand where your family is coming from culturally, but we support your different and contemporary values. Your family might not support you, but they might change their views over time, and there are many of us other Asian Americans who will quietly or loudly support you. Some of us grew up with friends, if not relatives, who were half Asian and half African American as well as other race-ethnicities. Best wishes to you and your loved one!

17 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2017 at 9:25 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

"Don't fall prey to Rx tranquilizers. Fire up the bong."

What's the difference?

3 people like this
Posted by Scooter
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 24, 2017 at 11:03 pm

>>> What's the difference?

Do you work for a pharmaceutical company? That is a position my retired great-uncle always uses. He is of the generation straight out of Mad Men (who are even older than my parents!) Pills and alcohol vs bud.

20 people like this
Posted by retired SJS Professor
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2017 at 9:44 am

Reading the various comments, this current and tragic problem seems to have a cultural ring to it with familial pressures to succeed in specified/approved occupations as the primary indicator and/or culprit.

Unfortunately, to succeed in these particular fields requires outstanding academic performance and the competition amongst qualified applicants is fierce. The status (or prestigious ranking) of the school also seems to play a role in this quandary.

With the obvious factors clearly visible, it shouldn't be too difficult to analyze the issue. Solving it probably involves a 're-tooling of re-thinking' of parental aspirations for their children. Conveying this message will pose the real challenge.

2 people like this
Posted by New Professor
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 25, 2017 at 6:29 pm

QUOTE: Pills and alcohol vs bud.

john alderman & scooter obviously represent different generations. The former sounds like he was born in the 1930s and a teenager during the mid-1950s and the other a Millennial point of view with Baby Boomers or GenXers as parents.

The Marinol alternative and devotion to Big Pharma represent the perspectives of an older generation. A generation that probably prefers traditional cocktail hour to 4:20 joints.

No biggie. Just an easy way to 'carbon date' without the carbon. *L*

Posted by MeiFang
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

on Aug 27, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

Posted by Save Our Children from Dispair
a resident of Los Altos

on Aug 27, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

14 people like this
Posted by Wei-Chi
a resident of Monroe Park
on Aug 28, 2017 at 9:44 am

Happy adults come from first being happy children.

Children need play time or they get rebellion in their minds. Fun is necessary for childhood mental health.

Children who don't have friends and fun grow up to be angry and hateful to others

7 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 28, 2017 at 10:05 am

Sarah1000 is a registered user.

Eve Meyer, the long-time director of SF Suicide Prevention, offered the following advice at a talk in SF last week:

Always Ask! “I’m seeing signs that you are in pain. Are you suicidal? Can I help?”

If they say “yes”, then follow with these questions:
Do you have a plan?
(Find out if the plan is lethal.) What method are you planning to use?
Do you have access to your method? (e.g., do you have a gun?)
When are you planning to do it? Now?

Most suicides happen in a moment that is temporary so suicide prevention is helping someone get through that moment.

If the person has affirmative answers to all four above questions, then:
Don’t ask why. Get the person away from the chosen method by using “I” messages: “I need you to help me by putting that away so we can talk. It would make me feel less nervous.” Do not leave the person alone even for a moment. Get the person to a mental health professional/hospital immediately.

If the person has a plan but not the means or the intent to act on it in the near future, then: Get the person to a mental health professional within 24 hours and, then, on a regular basis thereafter. Continue to ask the four questions to see if the answers to the four questions change.

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