Monday, September 23, 2002

Suicide Watch

I'm sure that Charles Tucker, who committed suicide during school hours on the football field of our local high school, had very serious problems. However, the school's indifference to his frantic mother is shocking and sadly typical.

As neighbors stopped by her home to console and pray, Charles' mother, Deborah Carter, recounted the frantic moments Friday after one of Charles' friends called her to say he thought the teen was suicidal.

She said she called the school attendance office and the phone rang 20 times without an answer. She grabbed a cell phone and called 911. While she spoke with an emergency operator, she said, she called the main school number on her other phone, pleading not to be transferred to attendance, but she was anyway.

As the 911 dispatcher assured her that police were on their way, she called La Sierra High a third time. After struggling to make the urgency of her call clear, she was transferred to Principal Don Austin, she said.

By then it was too late.

I'm not saying that the school could have stopped the suicide. But, a call like that should be taken seriously the first time around--no questions asked. And so much for zero-tolerance gun policies.

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