Boise School District leaders are calling on the community to utilize mental health resources in the wake of several student and teacher deaths. In a letter addressed to parents and staff on Tuesday, Boise School Board President Dave Wagers and Superintendent Coby Dennis acknowledged the district’s ongoing struggle with mental health following the recent tragedies. While the district did not disclose specific details about the deaths due to privacy concerns, they did mention that they were classified as both accidents and suicides.
Wagers and Dennis emphasized the importance of seeking out resources to address mental health issues. They highlighted the presence of highly-trained professional counselors, social workers, and child psychologists within the Boise schools who are available on a daily basis. Additionally, the district has established partnerships with various mental health organizations, including BPA Health, a behavioral health and managed services company based in Boise, to offer no-cost counseling to patrons of the school district.
In the event of a tragedy, the district deploys a crisis response team comprising counselors, security personnel, health professionals, school administrators, and others. The district also encourages parents and guardians to engage with Communities for Youth, a collaborative effort between the district, the city of Boise, and St. Luke’s Health System aimed at promoting child well-being.
Recognizing the high rates of depression and suicide among Boise students, the district is taking proactive measures to address these challenges. Idaho has been ranked 12th in terms of suicide mortality rates among U.S. states by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Previous surveys conducted by the Boise School District revealed alarming levels of depression and suicidal thoughts among junior high and high school students.
To combat this, the district plans to conduct a third survey this year and has already initiated a mental health summit to develop resources for student well-being. Wagers and Dennis stressed the importance of tackling this issue collectively as a community and emphasized the need for unity and support during times of grief and loss.
While specific details about the recent deaths mentioned in the letter were not provided, the Boise Education Association confirmed the sudden passing of Lucas Fitzpatrick, a social studies teacher at Fairmont Junior High School. The Ada County Coroner’s Office also verified the death of a man named Lucas Fitzpatrick on October 19, but did not disclose the cause of death.
In response to the recent tragedies, principals in the Boise High Quadrant, which includes Boise High School, North Junior High School, Hillside Junior High, and Treasure Valley Math and Science Center, issued a letter to parents and guardians expressing their shock and emphasizing the importance of supporting one another during this difficult time.