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WJHG: Bay District Schools Preparing for First Anniversary of Hurricane Michael

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - As the first anniversary of Hurricane Michael quickly approaches, Bay District Schools is actively working to keep faculty informed on what depression looks like.

Historically, around the first anniversary of a traumatic event, suicide rates spike, so knowing the warning signs is crucial for prevention.

Frank Zenere, a School Psychologist for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, said, "The hurricane experience that this area of our state has gone through is a very powerful one, not only physically changing the landscape, but changing the emotional landscape as well, and it's long-term, this is not something that goes away anytime soon, even though you're almost a year out since the actual disaster, there are still many recognizable aspects of it in that it occurred."

Children are heading back to school next week, and Bay District Schools wants employees to be prepared for the mental health crisis our students continue to face.

"Clinical depression exists in children very young as age six, seven, in elementary school, and we need to be aware of some of those symptoms to educate ourselves and becoming more aware of what is sadness that's due to a particular life event, which is appropriate, and then what exceeds that," said Zenere.

Those symptoms can include anger, anxiety, and being withdrawn.

Zerene spoke with Bay District Schools administrators Tuesday about combating suicide.

"We have the opportunity to work with school administrators, the leads, as they go back to their buildings to talk to their faculty, to talk to other staff members, because we never know who a child may feel comfortable in approaching and talking about their concerns," said Zenere.

Zenere also said, "Circumstances where a child is actively suicidal may or may not elicit a plan of what they choose to do, it's incumbent upon all parents and guardians to remove access to medications and weapons that could be used as a source for that suicide."

The district is arming faculty with knowledge that could save lives.

Copyright 2019 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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