Jason Jackson澳门开奖 alarm blared at 6 a.m. on Monday, May 22, normal for a school day. His wife, Dureen, was out of town in Michigan for a girls鈥 trip. He walked into the kitchen, found a note on the table, and realized Leo was not in bed.

He called Leo澳门开奖 phone. His ex-girlfriend澳门开奖 dad answered, informing Jason that Leo had dropped off a box of things on his porch, including his phone, earlier that morning.

Jason rushed to get his two younger daughters in the car, picked up Leo澳门开奖 phone, and drove around town searching for Leo. He called a close friend, a volunteer firefighter in Hamilton, asking to help with the search.

As the time for school loomed, Jason decided that the best move would be to take his first-grade daughter, Jae, to school while Kat, his older daughter, stayed home and used Leo澳门开奖 Snapchat to ask Leo澳门开奖 friends if they had seen him.

Amidst the blur of events, Jason noticed his gun and a single bullet were missing. He contacted the police, dropped off Jae, and notified Hawthorne Elementary of the situation. As he was driving home, he got the call鈥 Leo was found deceased by the river.

This article is the second in a series to attempt to address the heavy topic of suicide, a leading cause of death in the United States, and specifically, what Keokuk can learn from the tragedy of Leo Jackson澳门开奖 death, the community response to his death, and how to better support families in crisis and those struggling with mental health.

Learning about trauma-informed responses is critical in a community that routinely experiences so much tragedy鈥 including suicide and other forms of death or injury.

According to Keokuk Police Chief Zeth Baum, the actual number of deaths by suicide over the last five years is impossible to track as the number has been included with welfare checks, ambulance calls, deaths, and other stats. However, extrapolated data does show the numbers of death by suicide in the area are increasing.

鈥淔or comparison, in 2022, we received a total of 73 calls related to suicide and threats to commit suicide. In 2023 (as of early October), we have received 75 calls,鈥 Chief Baum said.

鈥淚n the past month, our crisis team has been deployed to three districts dealing with traumatic situations,鈥 Great Prairie AEA Public Relations Coordinator Jennifer Wooley wrote in October.

Actual deaths from suicide are lower than calls, but the numbers are rising. In a July 2023 American Psychological Association publication, studies indicated more than 20% of teens have seriously considered suicide. Furthermore, research led by the epidemiologists of the Department of Veteran Affairs reported the odds of dying by suicide are twice as high in rural America, like Keokuk, compared to urban areas.

At the river, Jason called Dureen, who immediately left Michigan for Keokuk. Devastated, Jason drove home with a friend to break the news to Kat. Jason and Kat then drove to each school to inform the administration and request the schools make an announcement, but only after Dureen arrived home.

鈥淚 didn鈥檛 want anybody to come contacting us until Dureen got home, so we had time to tell Jae,鈥 Jason said.

鈥淎fter a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools鈥 (The Toolkit) is a guide published by national organizations, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Following a suicide, school administration and staff are encouraged to use The Toolkit to create a crisis response team, bring in outside help, use scripts to discuss the death with students, parents, and media, reach out to the family, mitigate the chances for suicide contagion, and monitor and respond to continuous needs in the community.

鈥淎rrange for the students to be notified of the death in small groups, such as homerooms. Do not notify students by PA (public address) system or in a large assembly,鈥 The Toolkit reads.

With an impending off-campus lunch, a quick decision was made by the 澳门开奖 administration to announce Leo澳门开奖 death by PA.

鈥淪tudents and staff at 澳门开奖. I would like a moment where everyone澳门开奖 paying attention to the message that I鈥檓 about to give to our school community,鈥 former 澳门开奖 principal Adam Magliari said over the intercom in a video recorded by a student. 鈥淒ear students, this morning, there was a tragedy that occurred. Leo Jackson passed away this morning. Out of respect for his parents and at their request, they asked that you be made informed because they know how much he was loved here at 澳门开奖. Leo Jackson澳门开奖 family is requesting privacy, so please refrain from contacting his family at this time. They are requesting privacy, so please do not go by the house today. We have support staff for any student that needs additional support in the building.鈥

Magliari did not respond to requests for comment; however, reports from other staff mentioned the concern about students, especially Leo澳门开奖 close friends, finding out about his death during off-campus lunch 鈥 a space without professional support 鈥 was the main concern and deciding factor in how Leo澳门开奖 death was announced.

鈥淭he hard part is, we鈥檙e always going to try to show consideration to a family and grief, but our primary responsibility has to be the students,鈥 澳门开奖 counselor Lindsay Figge said. 鈥淪ocial media spreads so fast, and we were doing our very best to protect that situation.鈥

Between the time Jason informed the 澳门开奖 administration and Magliari broke the news to the students, the district and community mobilized to get mental health professionals, pastors, and counselors on campus.

鈥淭he all-hands-on-deck thing that we did, having people from helping roles in the community come in and offer support in any way they could, was a good thing,鈥 澳门开奖 Counselor Tyler Hardcastle said.

That afternoon, Jason answered a knock at his door. A high school student and friend of Leo澳门开奖 stood on the porch and asked if 鈥渨hat they said at school about Leo is true.鈥

Jason realized that the school had already made the announcement, and Dureen was still hours away.

鈥淚 decided to go pick Jae up a little bit before she got out of school because they didn鈥檛 want her getting on the bus with all the high school students and finding help from them before she even heard from us,鈥 Jason said.

One of the primary drivers of the school district澳门开奖 response to Leo澳门开奖 death was the fear of suicide contagion, where one suicide death may contribute to another. It澳门开奖 a rare but possible concern, accounting for between 1 and 5 percent of all youth suicide deaths annually.

鈥淪ome of our admin had worked in previous schools where they had a student die by suicide right after another student,鈥 Figge said.

鈥淗ow do we honor a student of ours who was amazing while also trying to keep our students safe?鈥 Hardcastle said.

Moreover, a perfect storm of events (the end of the school year and substantial administration turnover) amplified the struggles of the district澳门开奖 response to Leo澳门开奖 death.

In the days and weeks following Leo澳门开奖 death, the Jacksons said communication between the school and their family was strained.

鈥淭hey were very reluctant to talk to us even though when I was there, they said to call them if we needed anything,鈥 Jason said. 鈥淏ut then, it seemed like their 鈥榗all if you need anything鈥 turned into 鈥榩lease don鈥檛 call us again.鈥欌

A lack of an appointed school liaison for the Jacksons resulted in a delay in retrieving his belongings at the school, many of which were missing; his locker was ransacked by students following his death, and late invitations to activities intended to honor Leo.

鈥淪ince (students) were told that basically, we were off limits from everybody, for everything, for anything, we didn鈥檛 get to participate in a lot of the awesome things that they were doing to help remember Leo,鈥 Jason said.

鈥淚 think communication, transparency鈥 just continuing to stay in contact with and understand the needs of the family to find out how we can best serve them, are ways we could improve should we ever run into this situation again,鈥 new 澳门开奖 principal Nathan Harrison said.

Some counselors and administration acknowledge a disequilibrium in the concern for contagion and continuing communication with the Jacksons.

Dureen said at first, students who went by the river saw the Jacksons weren鈥檛 certain if they should talk to them. It took students 鈥渂reaking out and asking鈥 if they could talk to them to eventually dissolve barriers between the Jacksons and Leo澳门开奖 friends.

鈥淚 don鈥檛 want compensation or even reconciliation. I just want them to fix their protocol going forward. And I want recognition for my son,鈥 Dureen said.

KCSD uses the Great Prairie Area Education Agency (AEA) as a resource for professional learning, special education, curriculum and instruction, and for times of crisis. The AEA was a significant presence and influence on decisions impacting Leo澳门开奖 death.

KCSD Superintendent Kathy Dinger was neither on campus nor the superintendent when Leo died but started her position a month later.

鈥淚t澳门开奖 been my impression that the administration was very much responding to the lead of Area Education Agency (AEA) staff who had much more experience in that situation than they did,鈥 she said.

The 澳门开奖 reached out to the AEA twice to ask about the details and rationale for the guidance it gave to KCSD and how it advised the district to respond at the time of and days following Leo澳门开奖 death, something it is trained and expected to do.

鈥淥ur primary role as the AEA is to support schools in times of crisis. It澳门开奖 essential to clarify the decision on how to communicate or honor a student or staff member lies with the school district, not the AEA,鈥 Great Prairie AEA Public Relations Coordinator Jennifer Wooley said. 鈥淭he team is dedicated to fostering empathy, compassion, and respectful commemoration to facilitate healing and development within the school community.鈥

With resources, experts, and training comes responsibility and influence. An imbalance of priorities鈥 acting in fear of suicide contagion was disproportionate to responding to the needs of the Jacksons and clear communication of district autonomy.

鈥淥ne thing we鈥檝e learned is to honor what we know best about our school community, students, staff, and parents and balance that with the guidance we鈥檙e getting from outside support and experts,鈥 Dinger said.

In the weeks and months following the tragedy, Dinger met with the Jacksons, staff, and other administration to discuss ways the district can improve.

鈥淲e didn鈥檛 assign a liaison or connect the family with that liaison, and we needed to do that immediately,鈥 Dinger said. 鈥淚鈥檝e been given the impression that we didn鈥檛 establish clear chains of communication with and ongoing support to the family or the student澳门开奖 peer group, and I think we could do better. And I鈥檓 not sure until 澳门开奖 that was focused upon. And I鈥檓 sure it was because of all the changes.鈥

鈥淚t澳门开奖 hard in this situation because we鈥檝e lost teachers and a student before, but never by suicide. We hadn鈥檛 faced something like that,鈥 Hardcastle said.

鈥淵ou hate that we have to learn from a tragic situation, but we owe it to the family, it澳门开奖 what we have to do,鈥 Figge said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate assistance, call 988 or YOUR LIFE IOWA at 855-581-8111 or text at 855-895-8398.