Nova Scotia

Cape Breton school mourning death of 2nd student this school year

A junior high school in Sydney is helping students deal with the loss of a second student to suicide this school year. Sherwood Park Education Centre is offering counselling at the school.

School board official says both students at Sherwood Park Education Centre took their own lives

Students and staff at Sherwood Park Education Centre are grieving the death of another student. (Joan Weeks/CBC)

A crisis team is meeting with students at a junior high school in Cape Breton following the death of a classmate.

It's the second time this school year that a student at Sherwood Park Education Centre in Sydney has taken their own life, said an official with the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board.

"The school has to deal with another heartbreaking tragedy," Donnie Holland, the board's acting co-ordinator of secondary programs, told CBC's Mainstreet in Cape Breton.

"When it's one of our students that's affected it's heart-wrenching for everyone — not just the students, but the staff as well."

Counsellors on hand

Guidance counsellors were ready to speak with students as they arrived at the school Monday morning. About 300 students attend the Grade 6 to 8 school, according to its website.

"Any teachers that saw a student in distress or who seemed to be having trouble coping, they would have that student brought to one of the counsellors," said Holland.

Holland said a number of rumours that "aren't very accurate" have been circulating and he advised students to stay off social media for the time being.

"We know it can be a place where not a lot of positive things are said," he said.

Advice for parents

If parents are concerned about how their child is reacting to the deaths, Holland said they should watch for something beyond sadness.

"They are becoming more withdrawn, their behavior is changing a lot, they seem to be under a personal level of emotional distress that seems to warrant an extra level of intervention," he said.

If you are in distress or considering suicide, there are places to turn for support, including your doctor or Nova Scotia's Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team at (902) 429-8167. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention also has information about where to find help.

With files from CBC's Mainstreet Cape Breton