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Four Virginia Teens Dead Within Days

Three Commit Suicide

Prince William County Police determined the deaths of three Virginia teenagers last month were due to suicide.

Department spokesman Nathan Probus said the ruling Wednesday, Oct. 28 into the death of Christopher Owens, 15, was by a gunshot wound. Police found Owens on Monday after his family from Bristow reported him missing Saturday, Oct. 24.

Also on Oct. 24, police said 17-year-old David Joseph Cobb committed suicide in his home. On the same day, police found two 17-year-old teenagers, Indya Davis and Lyle Ferringer, dead inside a van at a park in Dale City.

Probus said the County’s Medical Examiner’s Office continues to investigate the death of Ferringer.

The county school system’s website – www.pwcs.org – has a link “What Every Parent Should Know about Preventing Youth Suicide” explaining what to do when a crisis occurs.

Some of the suggestions that come from the Virginia Department of Health include:

• Be honest with your children about what has occurred and provide facts about what has happened. Use age-appropriate terms for better understanding.

• Encourage your child to talk to you about his or her feelings and concerns. Share your feelings with your child.

• Spend extra time with your child.

Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steve Walts sent a recorded message Monday, Oct. 26 to all middle and high school parents.

“I am calling to ask for your help as we cope with the tragic and unexpected deaths of four Prince William County High school students, at three schools, over the past few days,” he said. “Please talk to your children about what has happened. Share your love and support and a big hug as well.”

Meanwhile, the school system’s Critical Incident Team recently visited three of the schools the students attended. Those individuals included nurses, psychologists, school counselors and social workers.

Indya, a senior, and David, a junior, both attended Osbourn Park High School in Manassas, according to a letter posted on the school’s website by Principal Neil A. Beech. Lyle, a senior, attended Gar-Field Senior High School in Woodbridge, according to the letter from its principal, Cherif Sadki.

The letters dated Oct. 26 from both principals offered recommendations to help students deal with their grief. No funeral arrangements have been announced but will be posted on the school’s websites when they become available, according to the letters.

Philip Kavits, a spokesman for the school system, said Christopher was a freshman at Brenstville District High School in Nokesville. “This was an effort to reach our school community to help them with the immediate situation and to help them get into the routine of teaching and learning,” he said. “The safety and the well-being of our students and teachers are the

highest priority for us.”

In the District, a School Emergency Response Plan and Management Guide outlined some of the protocols to help teachers and administrators prepare in the event of a crisis.

Michelle Lerner, spokeswoman for District of Columbia Public Schools, said in an email Monday, Nov. 2 officials will call 9-1-1 and inform the school’s mental health team when a threat of suicide presents itself.

Some of the individuals on the crisis team include the principal, school nurse and counselors.

When a crisis is over, one of the follow-up activities is to “hold small group discussions for both students and staff members and to encourage students and staff to speak with a mental health professional if the grief reaction is severe.”

In addition, parents are notified and provided numbers for mental health resources in their community. For more information on mental health services in the District, go to http://dbh.dc.gov/.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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