Post-It notes penned with words of hope and encouragement dot the campus of Stone Bridge High School today, on lockers and desks and classroom doors.
The Ashburn high school’s 1,650-student body returned to school today, three days after one of their classmates lost his life. A freshman student attempted to harm himself in a room near the gymnasium of the school Wednesday. He was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital for medical treatment and was on life support until Friday.
According to public Facebook posts from family members, the boy’s organs went to help save the lives of eight people, and his donated tissue helped 200 others. “All organs have a home. … Our hearts feel better knowing there will be new life given to numerous families!,” his mother wrote.
Matthew Greason, president of the senior class at Stone Bridge High School, said students returned to school this morning still in shock but hopeful.
“A lot of people were sad for such a tragic event, but they are more cognizant of some of the things others are going through,” he said. He mentioned the Post-It notes that scatter the school, with messages such as “You’re Loved” and “Keep Your Head Up.”
“People are sad, but the response and the support for his family and others going through difficult things has been unreal,” Matthew said.
Loudoun County has seen a rise in teen suicides in the past year. It’s prompted a community-wide conversation about how to improve the safety net to help struggling teens before they make a fatal decision.
Matthew, 17, encouraged students to consider joining PEER (Positive Experiences and Educational Relationships) or a similar club that focuses on teens helping teens. He said students involved in the organization talk to one another about what they’re facing, whether it’s stresses related to school, family or social aspects of their lives.
“Sometimes students don’t want to talk to an adult counselor,” he said, “but they might be open to talking to someone their age who might better understand what they’re going through.”