At 8:35 this morning, a freshman at Coweta Intermediate School in Oklahoma went into the bathroom and fatally shot themselves, sending the students and school around them into disarray. Police were on the scene within minutes, securing the school and making sure there were no other threats to the students. The school administrators handled the situation well, putting the local middle and high school on lockdown and quickly reaching out to parents. But sadly, that well thought-out and executed response won’t be enough to comfort students of the school, who will all be suffering through a very traumatic emotional experience over the next couple of months.
There have been very few details released in this case so far. We don’t know who the student is or why they might have decided to take their lives. We might never know why this student chose to do so in the school bathroom, right as classes were about to start on a Monday morning.
And yet, with almost no information at all, I can’t help feel like a piece of heart understands at least a little of what these kids are going through. Reading about this incident reminds me of my own struggle with a high school suicide.
For me, it was sophomore year. I had attended middle school with the girl, though we had never hung out in the same circles. We had never even shared a class together. But I knew who she was and she knew me. We would nod and smile in the hallways if we happened to make eye contact.
Then one day, our principal was announcing her death over the morning loud speaker. He was telling the school that there were grief counselors if we wanted to talk and giving out dates for her funeral. The news quickly spread that she had killed herself, after writing a note charging that two of our star football players had raped her. They got plenty of dirty looks in the hallways, but the charges were never investigated and the two went on to play football in college.
In the days that followed her death, this woman’s presence hung over the entire student body. We talked about it in hushed whispers. We cried at the very thought of her. Everyone who had ever spoken to her shared their stories, looking for some detail that might explain the unexplainable. We felt guilty that we hadn’t seen her pain or done anything to try to help.
Losing a classmate in such a tragic fashion leaves a lasting effect on every student in that school. Those Oklahoma kids right now are just beginning to experience the grief and confusion and sadness that will take time to work through and cope with.
Here at Mommyish, we wish the family of the victim, the students who knew him or her, and the entire community supporting them all peace of mind in their grief. We hope all of those students hug each other a little tighter and support each other through such a difficult time.