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Two more suicides reported in Academy District 20

Few details available about latest deaths

Disturbing Teen Suicide Trend Continues

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - For the second straight weekend, Academy School District 20 in Colorado Springs is coping with student suicide.

The district confirmed two new deaths: a high school senior boy last Sunday, and a home-schooled student two weeks ago.

Although a district spokesperson said the home-schooled family requested privacy and would not provide details, several concerned parents who emailed KRDO NewsChannel 13 said the student was a sixth-grader.

"Parents have been shocked that this happened to such a young child," said a parent who asked to remain anonymous.  "We have heard about teen suicides and high school students in the area but we did not know that this was something to be aware of at this young age."

Both students were enrolled at The Classical Academy, a public charter school within District 20 that has a home school program.

The district has now had three student suicides in two weeks.  A high school boy attending Discovery Canyon High School took his own life the previous weekend.

Counselors and a crisis team are at TCA helping students who are upset about the recent suicides.

Several of the students who died were active in Young Life, an international Christian organization with a branch in Colorado Springs.

But Terry Swenson, vice president of communications for the local branch, insists the staff did not negatively influence any child to die by suicide.

"We understand there's an interest in finding a simple explanation, but there isn't one," he said.  "Unfortunately, the focus on Young Life has been misplaced and is, frankly, distracting.  We're an organization that's with kids and for kids."

Swenson said Young Life grieves for and with the families of the teens who died by suicide.

"We train our staff on what to do if they suspect or have information that a young person may have suicidal thoughts.," he said.  "We have a 24/7 crisis line for leaders to call if they have concerns about a student."

Swenson said that in all cases, Young Life involves parents and recommends that they seek professional help for their children. 

"Part of what hurting kids need is a caring adult who will listen without judgment," he said.

Young Life has a presence in 23 area schools, the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and Fort Carson.

The latest deaths follow a rash of five suicides within the past month in Pueblo and one organization is getting involved in the issue.

Steel City Supporters will hold a "flapjack fundraiser" from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. at both Applebee's locations in Pueblo.  The event will raise money for suicide prevention resources needed after a prevention center lost state funding and closed recently.

"We need to have more dialogue regarding this issue," said SCS member Jerry Carter.  "I think it's an issue that's been put on the back burner for many years.  But we live in a different time.  The world is more chaotic these days.  Cyber-bullying, access to social media, peer interaction -- these are larger issues that don't get addressed enough."

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