DeKalb mom wants answers after 8-year-old attempts suicide in class

A DeKalb County Schools parent says her son attempted to drown himself in a Peachcrest Elementary classroom, and she’s raising questions about the district’s handling of the situation.

The mother said her 8-year-old second-grader made the suicide attempt last Friday after a counselor gave a talk to the class about suicide awareness. In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she alleged the teacher didn’t respond fast enough as the child said he was killing himself and filled up the sink in the classroom, plunging his head in the water. The mother, whose name is being withheld because it could identify her son, said the boy later tried to cut himself with scissors once he was taken to a counselor's office.

District officials said they are conducting a “thorough” investigation, and that it was too early to say whether the teacher followed proper protocols. 

“We take the safety and security of every student in our care very seriously,” the district said in a statement to the AJC.

The mother said she’s confounded and worried by her son’s behavior. He’s been complaining in recent weeks about being bullied, she said, but he has no history of psychiatric problems.

School workers called her to the Decatur-area school after the boy’s attempts.

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She said she walked in to find him on the floor of the guidance counselor’s office saying, “I hate myself, I want to die, I want to die.”

The mother aired her complaints about the school’s handling of the situation on Facebook. The district said there appear to be inconsistencies in the post, without specifying what wasn’t consistent.

The mother provided the AJC with a copy of an Individual Crisis Response Plan form, which appeared to be signed by the principal. On the form, the child says he never had tried to harm himself until last Friday, which he says he did by putting his head in water “with electricity.”

Had the child’s attempt worked, he would’ve joined a troubling trend of Georgia youths taking their lives. The numbers have been on the rise in the past few years, though answers as to why have been hard to come by.

After the mother brought the boy home, she got him calmed down and took him with his siblings to Stars and Strikes, the bowling alley with game machines. He finally seemed to be having a good time.

When they came home, a worker with the Division of Family Children Services knocked at the door, accompanied by DeKalb police.

Then the 8-year-old got worried he was going to jail, the mother said.

He stayed home and has gone back to school.

The case is under investigation by DFCS. The mother said she is also filing a complaint with the state department of education.

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