Archive for Thursday, March 4, 1999


March 4, 1999


Counselors will be available again today at Sunset Hill School, following the death of a fourth-grader.

Counselors and psychologists on Wednesday for the second time this week spoke to elementary school students about the death of one of their peers.

Officials trained in crisis management and in the grieving process spoke with all students and staff at Sunset Hill School, following the death of a 10-year-old fourth-grader.

"As part of our regular crisis-management procedures, we have a crisis team that is called in case of a death of a family member, a student or a staff member," said Julie Boyle, director of communications for the Lawrence school district.

"Our primary objective ... was to lend support to the students and staff and Sunset Hill."

Lawrence police said the boy was found hanged, but still alive, on Tuesday afternoon in his home in the 3500 block of Yale.

There was no sign of foul play, police said. A police report lists the incident as attempted suicide.

The boy was taken Tuesday to the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., where he died Wednesday.

"This is one of the most terrible things I've heard in a long time," said Lawrence Police Sgt. Richard Nickell.

Counselors also were called to Kennedy School on Monday and Tuesday following a fatal asthma attack that claimed the life of a student there.

Boyle, who on Wednesday was at Sunset Hill, said counselors went into classrooms and asked whether students wanted to "share feelings" about his condition.

"They told the students, `One of your classmates is in serious condition in Kansas City, and if you have certain feelings or want to talk about that, share your feelings.'"

"The counselors were trying to convey to the students it's OK to have feelings; It's OK to be mad or sad or whatever they're feeling -- that's part of dealing with grief."

An announcement early Wednesday was made on the school's intercom system that the boy was in critical condition. Another announcement was made later informing students and staff that he had died, Boyle said.

Boyle was handling all inquiries from news media about the school's response.

Counselors and psychologists will be at the school again today, Boyle said.

A note from the school's principal, Ken Rigdon, was sent home with students informing parents that counselors were available.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is

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