Brevard County schools offer more counseling, classes to help address student suicides

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Seven teens who attend Brevard County schools have committed suicide this school year, officials said.

County leaders have held two community meetings and surveyed high school students about their challenges.

"It has certainly opened up the dialogue,” said Dr. Maggie Balado, who supervises the psychologists for the Brevard County School District.

Balado said the student surveys revealed pressures including school stress, bullying and social situations. She told Channel 9's Samantha Manning that parent involvement in their child's life is also key.

"Too often, parents are afraid to ask the question, thinking that it's going to plant the seed of considering death by suicide. But frankly, that's not the case,” Balado said.

Tyler Cottrell, 18, told Manning that two years ago he tried to commit suicide.

"That day, the stress build-up was a little bit too high,” Cottrell said.

He said he felt pressure from cyberbullying and took 30 Prozac pills. He was given medical attention and successfully recovered.

"Now that I know who I could have hurt, who I did hurt, I wish I could take everything back,” Cottrell said.

“I don't wish this on anyone. It's heartbreaking,” said Jennifer O’Connor, Cottrell’s mother.

O’Connor said she she saw signs in his behavior in the days and months before the suicide attempt. She said she wants to warn other parents to look out for them.

"I noticed his grades drop. His attitude really changed. He was usually OK. His temper got short with his brother and sister,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said counseling helped her son and she hopes to bring awareness by sharing his story.

“It took a lot of work, but he is back (to being) better,” O’Connor said.

Balado said the school district is going to give more training to school staff about the warning signs of suicide and how to get help for kids in trouble.

If you know someone who is considering suicide or who may need help, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or Suicide Prevention Resource Center.