Teachers Who've Had To Tell Their Class A Student Passed Away Share Their Experiences
*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
When a sudden tragedy strikes a school, an uncanny tone sweeps across the community.
The whispers of half-informed students fly down hallways and across cafeterias. Each is heard with a balance of eager interest and mournful respect.
Teachers act strangely. They hold secrets and quietly argue about how to deliver the tragic news. The chain of command is strained under the unique circumstances.
When a student dies, all decorum subsides.
Perhaps wondering what that environment feels like, Redditor ThatOneLazySushi asked:
"Teachers who had to tell their class a student passed away, what was it like?"
Many teachers talked about the times a student or students chose to take their own lives.
The moral of the story? There is simply no way to deliver that news without an injection of trauma.
"My step-dad is a private school principal who also taught 7-8th graders. Total class size was 21 or so. Over the weekend one of the 13yo died of apparent suicide. I have never seen him so pale and empty looking when he got home that day."
"You could tell he had been crying along with the students. In his 30 years he had never dealt with anything like that and he shut down for a good while. He never saw a counselor but set it up for the students. I wish he would."
A Faceless Note
"On the 2nd day that I was in my own doing student teaching, the school went into lockdown. As this was just over a year after 911, the class, a senior Government class, surmised that it had something to do with that. There has been 2 suicides of dropped-out students in the prior 2 weeks, but that did not come up."
"Then a note was slipped under the door stating that a senior, the girlfriend to one of the prior suicides, had killed herself that morning. The option was given to announce it or have someone come down from the office to do it."
"I guess they could see my concern, and the color draining from my face while reading it, as I was asked, 'Mr. D——, what's going on?' I told them, and it was heartbreaking. There was a lot of anger and a lot of tears. It has been nearly 20 years and it still haunts me."
"In hindsight, it was, to quote the Johnny Cash song A Boy Named Sue, a Get Tough Or Die moment. I've lost 5 current/former students since then, but none were as dark as the first one."
Probably the Best Response
"I used to teach English in China as an expat. The college I worked at had three suicides in a year, one of the students was in my department. Although I didn't teach the student directly, the tone of the students and my colleagues were extremely gloom."
"Although tragic, the topic of mental health had been on the forefront of school business after the third incident and a therapy office for students has been established in the administration building. I was very proud of my school for taking mental health seriously, and had a discussion with my students about the issue. I kept my office open for any students wanting to talk."
"AFAIK no other suicide/attempt was made for the remainder of my time there (~1 year afterward). Flowers were set up at the location."
"Worst day of my career. A student of mine shot himself the night before. The SRO told me that morning. The principal made an announcement over the intercom for all of my students to come to my room and instructed me to tell everyone about his passing while all the admin and district and school counselors watched."
"His best friend just got out of a mental hospital for cutting himself. He was sitting right next to me when I spoke to the class. I instructed one of the counselors to not let the best friend out of their sight for any reason. 30 minutes later, the counselor informs me the best friend has gone missing."
"I search the school and find him, razor in hand, and a bloody mess. I take the razor and hold him with one arm while calling his dad with the other. It was a long and terrible day."
Other teachers recalled times that a student suffered at the hands of community violence. These stories took place in areas where, unfortunately, despite the sadness it wasn't completely shocking.
A Constellation of Factors
"A student of ours was shot and killed. It happened just as quarantine had started so no students to tell. Just the teachers and staff."
"I had talked to the student no more than a week before everything shut down. We had threatened to call CPS on the mother because she had several children not going to school at all. We also suspected she was under the influence of drugs. He came in because of this threat and had told us his twin had been shot during a party and died. Most likely gang related for both of the shootings."
"It's difficult because these were 16-year-olds that should have had a better shot at life but the system failed them every step of the way."
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Last to Hear
"Used to teach in inner-city Chicago. Never had a student die, but several of them got shot. The kids knew well before I did."
"I actually had one student missing for three days; I mentioned it out loud that it was odd they weren't in class for three days in a row, and one of my kids said, 'Oh, Joe got shot seven times. You didn't know?' "
"Pretty harrowing stuff. It's tough to sleep those days off, especially considering how casual the kids would be about it."
Feels So Random
"A classmate from first period in my Jr. year of high school. The teacher just walked in to class and explained that this chick was shot in a drive by at the park."
"I just remember being super uncomfortable and not knowing what to do. The chick that sat behind her in class just lost it. Just shocked looked on her face, and she just started bawling. I'm sure she went home after that."
"I took flowers to the place ware she died. I didn't know her that well at all really. But I thought to myself 'even if you may not feel it, it's always good to pay your respects.' So I did."
"My wife works in a high needs area that is plagued with gang violence. A few years back 4 students were found brutally murdered in the woods (MS13 hit). 2 of them were her students It was highly publicized and everyone knew before the next school day (I believed it happened over a long weekend or a school break)."
"For her breaking news wasn't hard but dealing with the fallout was heartbreaking. Sadness, fear and anxiety not just because of the murders but because of the extreme attention it received (it was highly politicized on the state and national level). Many students are afraid of the gangs but they are also afraid of the police and other authorities. The student body is incredibly vulnerable."
Finally, some people discussed the sudden medical tragedies that took place. Without any backstory, context, or logic to share, delivering this news felt sickening.
"I was a student in a 2nd grade class where this happened. One of my classmate's older brothers had collapsed in the cafeteria. We all saw it. Our teacher had to come in and tell us the little information she knew and I distinctly remember her crying and having to leave the room."
"Days later when the brother was taken off life support they brought in child psychologists to tell us about brain death and life support machines and the hard decision his parents had to make. As an adult I really appreciate the care the school took to make sure everything was explained in a child appropriate manner."
"There was no gossip or whispering because they told us everything that happened. Our teachers even brought us to the funeral, explaining that although it would be sad it was important to show our classmate our support. A horrible situation that was handled as well as it could be given how young we were."
Just Being Kids
"(Student) In middle school I had a friend and his brother die from an electrocution accident from a downed power line after a storm. It was 2 brothers one in 6th grade and one in 5th."
"Everyone was acting weird that day and no one really knew why. Kids were crying and walking out of class, it kind of threw off our whole school day. I remember one of our teacher telling us what happened and got really emotional."
"Apparently a kid who went to our school witnessed what happened too and she basically said don't ask him questions about the situation. It hit her close to home for some reason I don't know why, she couldn't even speak without crying. I knew my old classmate a little bit and we shared a class. He was a really nice kid. RIP to him & his brother."
A Horrifying Fluke
"My son was in the 3rd or 4th grade and one day he came home and said 'P didn't come to school today, her brother died.' It turned out the older brother and mom were playing around at home and she tapped him on the head with the heel of her shoe."
"He laid down to take a nap and died due to a clot or something like that. I can't even imagine."
A Confused Response
"I was the student here, and in 6th grade the teacher and principal both told our class that our classmate had passed. He had bullied me daily. When I heard the news, 11 year old me felt relief, and I never really thought about him again."
"Now, as a more empathetic adult, I feel absolutely horrible that I had that reaction to his death. I don't think as a kid, even in middle school, I truly understood what death was. I would take getting bullied every day over him dying."
"To tie this into the question - I don't envy educators that have to deliver this news at all. Some kids are losing their best friend or classmate, and some kids may not fully comprehend what happened."
Close to Home
"Im a student not a teacher, but the teachers son died from a car accident and he was one of my friends"
"The teacher came in crying and told us there would be a meeting in the auditorium to honor his son, I ended up going home and crying the rest of the day because one of my best friends died"
A Very Sad Start to the Day
"When I was in high school two of my classmates died, one in tenth grade from Reye's Syndrome, the other in eleventh grade from leukemia. In both instances the entire school was notified during the morning announcements over the PA."
Someone To Talk To
"I teach elementary school and a student in an colleague's class (same grade) had a student pass away mid year. The student was sick. I forget what exactly he had, but it was well known he wouldn't live long, and he was frequently out of class due to illness or dr appointments."
"The day after his passing, a grief counselor was brought in and helped explain to the class what death was in a very age appropriate way. I had a couple of students in my class who were friends with the deceased student. I sent them to the grief counselor, and they said it helped a lot."
Unfortunately, when a teacher takes the job they rarely imagine these days as part of the job description. But things like this do happen, and it's so important that kids have teachers when they do.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
While starting a family and having children is a goal that many people have, some do not realize that it's not easy, fun, and loving one-hundred percent of the time. Rather, it's expensive, exhausting, and hard, though it might be worth it in the end.
With this in mind, people shared what they felt were the hardest hurdles of their parenting.
Redditor ApprehensiveShock655 asked:
"What's the worst part of having a child?"
Fear of Not Doing Enough
"The constant anxiety that you’re doing enough to shape them to make good choices, a good life, be a good person and for them to have the life they deserve."
Like the Energizer Bunny
"It's incessant. It never stops. You never get a day off."
"Going from having two days per week to relax and do whatever to literally never having a moment free from responsibility."
No Break In Sight
"I’ve always wanted kids and still do, but this is the only thing that has come close to giving me pause."
"Both my siblings have young kids and I cannot get over how CONSTANT it is."
"From the second the kids wake up to when they finally shut their eyes, it’s non-stop. Then they get maybe an hour or two to themselves, which is mostly spent tidying up, etc., before the nighttime stuff starts with the baby crying, the toddler coming into bed, nightmares, etc."
"It requires years of not getting a full night's rest. You can never just go out whenever you want. No sleeping in, even on weekends because someone has to be up with them at 6 AM."
"Raising human children is an insane task."
Mom's Body After Baby and Dad Bods
"The weight gain is the worst! During the pregnancy, I gained 35 pounds. My belly has stretch marks. My boobs are all saggy."
"And it’s not even fair because my wife only gained like 15."
The Meal Planning
"Coming up with three meals to eat per day EVERY DAY stresses me out so bad."
"This sounds like such a small thing, but it really wears on you over time. You can’t just make something for yourself or something you and your spouse feel like eating: You have to constantly be thinking about if the kid is hungry and what they might be willing to eat."
Keeping Them Safe
"When people ask me this I say, 'do you know those video games where you have to escort a character to a destination without them being attacked?' That's parenting. Those missions are a pain in the a**."
Seriously, Keep Them Safe
"Having to deal with their total lack of self-preservation. They are creative and come up with all kinds of ways to try and kill themselves. Keeping ahead of the game is exhausting."
"They’re just always there. On you, behind you, in front of you, just a little speed bump impeding every task."
Letting Them Live Their Life Their Way
"Having a kid is like having a little piece of your heart running around in the world. When they're sick or get disappointed or just feel sad, it's worse than having it happen to you."
"Yet at the same time, you need to let your kids work through those things to learn to handle them. If you give into the worry and try to shield them from everything, you risk creating harmful co-dependence."
"So it's a constant struggle. But worth it!"
What Is "Sleep" Again?
"I'm only nine years in, but so far, it's been the sleep deprivation. Hands down."
And What Are These "Sick Days" You Speak Of?
"Having to take care of a sick child when you are also sick. For me that has been the most challenging part so far."
Another Full-Time Job
"It's like taking a second job that lasts 18+ years with a 24/7 schedule with no holidays or sick days."
"…And no second paycheck. It's actually like YOU are paying your second salary instead of getting one."
"The loss of freedom. I can't just... go somewhere. Even with older kids, there's so much planning and thinking and getting ready."
"I miss being able to just decide to go somewhere, and go there."
The Time Flies
"The best advice I got was from an ancient hospital security guard in an elevator. 'The days are long, the years are short, cherish them while you can.'"
"The phrase I hate is, 'You don't know it, but one day you pick your kid up for the last time.'"
There are all kinds of troubles that come from being a parent, many of which people don't necessarily think about until they already have a baby in the house.
But reassuringly, many people in the subReddit pointed out that no matter how hard some of these hurdles are to get over, it's still worth it in the end, and it goes by far too fast.
Positive emotions are high among people in the blossoming phase of relationships.
Everything seems more romanticized for people in love due to the amorous joy in their hearts–which also influences their desire to frequently get it on under the sheets–or any other daring location in the heat of the moment.
But for those who've declared "'til death do us part," devoted couples may find that they are not always on the same wavelength sexually compared to when they first met.
Curious to hear how people keep their passion alive, Redditor Rude_Phone6841 asked:
"Married people, how do you initiate sex with your partner?"
When verbally articulating isn't enough...
Let The Book Dictate When
"There is a book called 'How to Subtly Tell Your Partner You Want More Sex.' If you sleep on the right side of the bed, you can casually open it up and your spouse will see the giant printed title on the front. Sometimes, I’ll just get the book out and leave it on his side of the bed. Once he was messing with me and acting like he was oblivious to my not-so-subtle hints, so I threw the book at him. The book is effective and hilarious."
"ETA: Sadly, we haven’t found the book since we moved. Fortunately, we’ve started communicating with our words instead. Words are just as effective."
Save The Date
"I send her an outlook calendar event and if she accepts, IT'S ON."
"You know when I’m down to my socks it’s time for business."
These couples find that verbal cues are best.
Now's The Time
"Honestly when we have the time one of us usually bluntly says 'let's go have sex right f'king now before we can't' and we go do it. Lol"
Option A Or B
"I have a 2 month old and a 2 year old. Some of the best sex we had was because I said 'after 2 year old goes down and if 2month decides to sleep do you want to meet in the basement' well she decided to sleep and damn that was good."
End Of Day Reward
"We just ask each other tbh. We’ll bring it up earlier in the day so we build up the anticipation with each other throughout the day, flirt with each other, gas each other up. All that. Then when it’s finally time at the end of the day, we usually fall asleep cause we’re so tired."
"But the cycle continues the next day!"
People continued offering their wisdom.
Afternoon Hanky Panky
"The trick is to initiate sex during the day. We are both too tired at the end. Plus hanging out all day after is somehow more rewarding."
"Same goes for dates. Have sex at the beginning the date, then go enjoy your time together without any pressure."
Kids In The Equation
"This literally happened today with my wife and me. We have two toddlers so we’re extra exhausted. Earlier today we had the sexy initiation of 'hey, we both showered today, want to have sex after the babies are asleep?' 'Sure.'"
"Then when the kids were asleep, and my wife and I were getting settled into bed, she asked if I still wanted to. I said if she wants to I’m down, but I’m pretty tired and would be fine without it. She said she was also tired and could do without it. So we kissed each other good night and she went to sleep. I’m just winding down on Reddit for a few minutes before I also fall asleep."
"I know this is boring. I didn’t write this to tell an exciting story. Just to share what married life is like for me and probably the large majority of married couples, especially parents of young kids."
Shadow Puppet Technique
"Use my phones torch to shine a shadow of my member up against the bedroom wall."
"Kinda like a bat signal of sorts."
"Turn off the lights and switch on the red lamp beside the bed."
"Walk by him while taking my top off. He follows me wherever I go and it's been 30 years and counting."
Every couple is different, and usually establishing a strong communication bond makes everything else in the relationship–including sexy time–falls in line effortlessly.
I knew a couple who made a game out of foreplay and agreed that whoever got home first from getting off work at the same time got to choose the sexual position that night.
They may no longer be together, but I remember them recalling how that technique was fun for them at the beginning stage and it took the pressure off of establishing when they were going to have sex.
Don't take get too anxious about it. It's just sex, and it's fun.
There are a number of things people partake in spite of the known possible ramifications they have on their health and safety.
Up to and including smoking, bungee-jumping, recreational drug use, or simply bike riding without a helmet.
Indeed, even though they know that doing any or all of these things could possibly lead to their death, they do it anyway.
Sadly, even though many people go out of their way to avoid doing these things for that very reason, that still doesn't mean they keep themselves completely out of danger.
Sadly, there are a surprisingly large number of things that lead to an even more surprising number of deaths each year.
Frighteningly, these are things that the majority of the world's population does on an almost daily basis.
"What causes death more than people realize?"
When In Doubt, Call Your Doctor!
"Your body will become septic, in which it essentially kills itself trying to kill off whatever infection one has."- cacarrizales
"Infections that are left untreated."- raptor-99
Tread Carefully. Seriously.
"On average around 17k people a year in the US die from injuries incurred after tripping and falling."- EdithWhartonsFarts
When In Doubt, Don't Drive.
"Driving while sleepy."- latchkey_adult
The Handrail Is There For A Reason.
"20 million severe injuries each year and at least 200,000 death from consequences of the fall."
"Both my grandparents died because of a fall."- OnTheGoodSideofLife
They Happen To The Best Of Us
"Especially among the elderly, a fall can create a cascade of events that results in death, even if it seems minor at first."-AdmiralBofa
Never Rush Chewing
"Statistically the most choked on food."- SpecSanders
Never Skip A Check-Up
"High Blood Pressure."
"It sneaks up on you and you don't know about it or don't care but it's the underlying cause of so many deaths."- Fear51
Never Underestimate The Importance Of Self Care
"Your body can only handle so much of it and it’s labeled the 'silent killer' for that reason."
"With your high blood pressure and the 5 hours of sleep a night because of the stress, It will creep up on you sooner than you think."- DroppedDonut
Don't Forget To Floss!
"Untreated dental problems."
"A cavity left untreated can lead to heart attacks and strokes."- Lastalmark
"Just regular old flu."
"Many people ignore it thinking it'll go away on its own."
"Globally the number per year is usually between 300k and 500k."
"In the US it can be anywhere from 12k to 50k per year."- PhreedomPhighter
Don't Feel Ashamed If You Need A Break
"I have two family friends pass from heart attacks associated to shoveling the snow."- JD054
There Are People Who Will Help You
"Alcoholism causing liver failure and it's on the rise in the USA."- Interesting_Drop8236
"Peruse your County ME’s records."
"The amount of people who die from alcohol is astounding."- hockenduke
Sometimes, It's Just Best To Mind Your Own Business
"You watch some Hollywood blockbusters and some MMA fights and you think you can do it too."
"I've seen stories of a guy minding his own business and gets rocked on the side of his head. It disconnected his spine and he was dead before he hit the ground."
"There was another story maybe a year ago of a scuffle where a guy was stabbed in the neck and bled out to the point of being unable to stand within 10 seconds."
"Stop f*cking around, it's not worth your life."- Choiceofart
We never know when our number is up or how we'll end our days.
However, with a little bit of care and good judgment, we can at least likely avoid falling victim to all of the above.
When Americans visit a foreign country, they tend to notice immediate cultural differences from the minute they step off the plane.
Unique bathroom designs, how you might have to be more specific when ordering coffee in Australia, how many businesses in Spain tend to shut down for a few hours to take a siesta.
Needless to say, this goes both ways, as when people from all over the world visit the United States, they tend to be surprised and amazed by a number of things.
Ranging from the amusing, such as portion sizes and ineffective tea brewing (at least for the Brits) to the truly baffling (HEALTHCARE).
"Non-American people, what’s a thing that you don’t understand about America?"
You Mean, People DON'T File Their Own Taxes Elsewhere?!?!
"Does every worker have to file their own taxes or am I just confused?"- ThePencil67
"Why they make you calculate your own taxes, if they know what you owe."- redder2023
"So, why do you buy politicians' merchandise? "
"Shirts, caps, banners, stickers, etc."
"They're public servants, not rockstars."
"Also, usually the more boring they are, the better."- akashyyConor Mckenna Influencer GIF by FoilArmsandHogGiphy
"Scottish person here but the work/always available for work culture."
"Minimal vacation time, minimal maternity/paternity leave and the fact you can pretty much just be let go."
"It makes me sad to think about it!"
"But I do love that you guys cram so much into your time off - you guys love a road trip!"- Frosty_Dragonfly_682
Definitely Something To Consider...
"What is up with Homeowner Associations?"
"Why would you pay to let a nosy neighbor dictate what you can and can not do on your own property?"
"I understand living in an apartment block and paying maintenance fees etc, but in a suburban home?"- Skoodledoo
There Are Some Good Observations
"The amount of National Parks!"
"My dream came true in 2017 to make an RV trip southwest off USA."
"Yosemite blew my mind away."- Independent-Ad9787national parks GIF by Visit The USAGiphy
"How you can say the word 'mirror' without the use of any vowels."
I Ordered A Small!
"Why everything is just SO damn supersized."
"My first time in America I went to get ice coffee from Dunkin Donuts, I ordered a large and my friend is like, 'are you sure you want large'?"
"Yeah no biggie, in the UK a large is not overwhelming I feel so I was expecting the same kinda thing."
"Oh my god it was like a god damn bucket of coffee."
"I think maybe a small would have been equivalent to a UK large, lesson swiftly learnt."
Some People Are Lucky To Just Have One Roommate...
"How you have to share a room with some complete rando when you go to college."- ChoppingOnionsForYouRoommates Move In GIF by James Madison UniversityGiphy
Some People Just Can't Stop Talking
"The culture of just talking to people, strangers you don't know and just up and start a conversation with them or join a conversation."
"I'm British, and we go through great lengths to not talk to people, let alone open up and pour our hearts out to a random person."- MrGlayden
In Other Words: Severs Deserve to Be Paid More!
"The tipping culture is so foreign to me, I would be so scared to make a mistake or not tipping enough if I ever go to America because it's not something which is common here in Denmark."- Cupsuu
The Commercials, Maybe?
"I’m American but I’ve worked with a lot of people who aren’t."
"The one thing they always wonder is why Americans are so obsessed with the NFL."
"They think it’s a boring sport."
"They explained 'you wait for 30 seconds, they hike the ball, you get about 5-10 seconds of action, then you wait another 30 seconds, another 5-10 seconds of action, then commercial break'."- yougotthesilver12Kansas City Chiefs Football GIF by Fighting Illini AthleticsGiphy
School Is No Place To Have Fun!
"My mom is from Moscow during the Soviet Era, and she is confused why there is no teacher-student hierarchy."
'She thinks it's weird when teachers participate in school plays or speak to students informally."
"She also DOES NOT GET pajama day."
"To her, it's just the weirdest thing in the world."
"In Russia, there is an important distinction between 'clothes for home' and 'clothes for outside'."
"They have a concept of 'home clothes', like your cozy or ugly clothes, that you are supposed to change into after school or work."
"At bedtime, you change out of your 'home clothes' into pajamas."
"As a result, pajamas, for both adults and children, are considered extra-extra private in Russia."
"My mom perceives pajama day as something extreme like wearing only undergarments to school."
"That's how private pajamas are considered to be in Russia!"- racheltolmach2022
A Debate Which Will Likely Never End
"MM/DD/YYYY"- SuvenPananimation domination calendar GIF by gifnewsGiphy
Living in America comes with a number of advantages and a number of detriments.
Speaking personally though, had I known I wouldn't have to file my own taxes in Australia, I would have expatriated long ago...