I'm not sure what kind of answer the asker is looking for, because when someone asks about suicide, there are often deeper underlying questions than purely objective facts that they're looking for. As a member of the Gunn High graduating class of 2010, I'd like to provide an answer that gives more than purely objective fact. Perhaps it's not the answer you're looking for, but it's an answer that, as a representative of our community, I feel compelled to provide, if only so anyone who stumbles upon this question will have a slightly better understanding of Gunn High. Despite it being several years since our experiences at Gunn, this topic brings up many emotional scars, so please be sensitive, Quora community.
The first student to die of suicide was a friend of mine and a dearly loved member of the class of 2010. His death was very public as well as devastating to our community, and we grieved very publicly. Perhaps because he was so well regarded, and Palo Alto as a community is so affluent and high-achieving, the media coverage of the suicide was heavily sensationalized.
(And here we go into a sidenote where I answer your actual question: As mentioned by Quora User, heavy media coverage of very public suicides, as was the case in 2009, can sometimes contribute to other suicides. During my junior and senior years (2009 - 2010), I remember four students who died of suicide at Gunn.)
For a community that was grieving, the speculation, accusations that our school was an "academic pressure cooker," insensitive questions, and prying eyes from the outside were not conducive to healing. There was a sense that no one on the outside really understood what we were going through. Even now, I recognize that very few understand the painful experience, and thus few approach the topic of suicide with enough sensitivity.
Within Gunn, however, we understood each other and what we were all going through. Together, we experienced emotions of grief, despair, guilt, anger, confusion, and even depression. Together, we also began to heal...slowly. We learned to watch out for one another and to be more sensitive to each others' needs. As a community, we learned to take care of each other, and there were even several student initiatives that promoted student well-being. Here are a few examples:
Sam Zeif and Miles Mathews, Class of 2010, designed hand-stenciled, custom T-shirts with the words "Talk to Me
," to promote communication and support among students. They sold several hundred T-shirts for $5 each and donated the proceeds to a grief support organization in Palo Alto. Read more about the story here: http://www.paloaltoonline.com/ne...
and watch a video about it here:
Joyce Liu, Esther Han, and Yoni Alon, Class of 2010, created a student group called ROCK
, which stands for Reach Out, Care, Know. ROCK is a student-run peer support and advisory group, where students make themselves available, through email or at a table in a public place at school to listen and share experiences. During my time as a ROCK, I attended peer-support trainings taught by Dr. Barbara Varenhorst, a peer help expert, as well as participated in outreach activities such as a Frosh Quad (Friendly) Invasion, where upperclassmen intentionally hung out with freshmen during lunchtime. You can learn more about ROCK here: http://rockatgunn.wordpress.com/
Joyce Liu also created a website, inspired by http://www.givesmehope.com/
, called Henry M. Gunn Gives Me Hope (HMGGMH)
. The website features community-submitted stories of hope from our daily lives. You can check it out here: http://hmggmh.wordpress.com/
It pains me that even now, Gunn is still often connected with suicide (typically blamed on academic pressure). But the students that I went to high school with and graduated with give me hope. Yes, as many of you know, I went to high school with some of the brightest, most driven, and high-achieving teenagers in the country. What you might not know is that these same bright, driven, and high-achieving students, who went through so much together during our last few years of high school, are some of the most caring, compassionate, and mature students in the country.