LIMA — Eric England isn’t just mourning the loss of a friend to suicide this week, he’s also hoping finding a way to stop another senseless death.
England, a sophomore in the Lima Senior High Progressive Academy, addressed the Lima school board Thursday, asking to start a support group at the high school.
“Even one suicide is a beautiful life lost,” he told the board, saying there are students at Lima Senior who believe no one cares and that they are alone. “Someone needs to help.”
Along with the support group, England wants the school district to adopt a curriculum to help students having difficulties.
Lima Senior student Stephen Doll, 16, died Monday after leaping Sept. 14 from a five-story parking garage at St. Rita’s Medical Center. Police were called to West Wayne Street for an attempted suicide. Doll agreed to go to St. Rita’s, but once there, ran from the emergency room to the roof.
A female Lima Senior student committed suicide last school year. Board members expressed support of England’s proposal.
“You said one is too many,” board member C. Ann Miles said. “Two. There is no excuse for it.”
Progressive Academy Principal Tim Fitzpatrick hopes to find an existing curriculum and have people trained in it in the next month.
The support group should be in place soon. Fitzpatrick envisions it being a place for students to talk about an array of issues. It would be open to students in all three small schools.
Students will use the support group, England believes. Regardless of how many take part, just saving one life would make it worth it, he said
England believes bullying played a part in Doll taking his life. While school staff members care, England said, they are unable to stop bulling from occurring.
“It was time for someone to stand up and make a change,” he said. “Lima City Schools is an awesome school system, but people need to learn how to deal with bullying and how to prevent this suicide.”
The district has an antibullying program in the elementary and middle schools. It takes students like England to step up, too, Superintendent Karel Oxley said. More work at the high school is ongoing to combat bullying.
“It has to stop,” she said. “It has to stop with students. It has to stop with adults in the community. It has to stop everywhere. It is leading to nothing but difficulties for lives to move forward in a safe fashion.”