EDUCATION

Fairfax teens, parents meet to work on suicide prevention

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After a number of recent suicides involving Fairfax County Public School students, teens and their parents met Saturday morning to tackle a difficult subject: how stress can affect students and how to get help.

Natalie Fahlberg goes to Langley High, where in February, two students committed suicide just a day apart. Woodson High has also seen a rash of recent suicides.

"It's hard when you have fellow classmates commit suicide because it affects everyone" Fahlberg says.

Fahlberg, a senior who is headed to Princeton, talked to parents about the stress involved with succeeding and getting into the best schools.

It was one of dozens of small group sessions addressing all kinds of issues at Hayfield Secondary School. There were discussions on drug and alcohol abuse and its effects on depression. And conversations about balancing school and home life.

"Our teens are needing to have that conversation and our parents are asking to have that conversation," says Carlyn Floyd, an organizer of the event.

Floyd argues stress levels for teens are higher because the work load has changed and social media is the cause of additional pressures on daily life.

Celeste Kelly came with her son to find ways to cut down on stress for both of them.

"We need to take out time for our selves -- at least 10 minutes -- and just not think about anything, not doing anything," Kelly says.

Aside from the sessions, parents had access to other services and information about mental health.

As a way to reach the younger generation, starting June1, Fairfax County Schools will start using a crisis link where students will be able to use their phones and text for help.

"It's really important that we discuss this to make sure nothing like that ever happens again," says Harris LaTeef, a Langley High School student.

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