After a series of traumas, Damonte High students need help

Published: Mar. 5, 2020 at 6:37 PM PST
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It's sobering to stop and think about what Damonte Ranch High School and its students have experienced in recent weeks.

Two students dying within days of each other from overdoses, a suicide and now, two students dead in a family murder suicide.

"It's the fifth one in 35 days," says junior Bella Balstad.. "That doesn't happen. That doesn't happen to schools."

We're told the school kept its usual class schedule Thursday, but it was hardly a normal school day.

Extra counselors, even therapy dogs, joined faculty and staff comforting student and each other. These traumas happened elsewhere, but they happened to this school community and this shared grief and healing is important.

"Obviously all of us are mourning and sad because we've lost our classmates," says junior Elyse Pettipiece, "but if we are together as a family we can get through this."

But at the end of the day students will go home and families will be part of that healing process.

"And when we talk about parents communicating with their children, they need to see real people. They need to see honesty," says licensed therapist Bob Sanfilippo.

He says parents need to be attentive, but shouldn't push. Everyone processes trauma differently.

"Some may want to talk about it. I would imagine most would want to chill out so to speak. Teens, the ones I've worked with usually have their own peers, their own friends. Parents may not be the first to know and that doesn't mean the parent is doing anything wrong or that there's anything wrong with the relationship. That's just the development of an adolescent."

Finding your own way is part of being a teenager, but he says they watch adults around them and how we act as role models is very important.

"I think the best approach is to go on with business as usual. Keep your routines going. Keep those routines going. So if you have dinner at a certain time, that's what you're going to be doing. So they could see those feelings, but they could also see that life goes on. That's the bottom line. That they see--I don't care how young or old they are--that we have a sense that life goes on because that gives us a sense of safety and security."

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020