Trustee Eric Cowan Demands Dallas ISD Do More to Stop Middle School Suicide

Last night, Spence Middle School hosted a parent meeting to talk suicide. If you don't already know why, read Matthew Haag's article in The Dallas Morning News over the weekend: one student dead, three others who tried to take their own lives.

A few blocks away, Board President Eric Cowan pressed pause on Dallas ISD trustees' regular meeting to make an impassioned plea for expanded mental health services at middle schools, citing his own struggles with an unspecified "mental health disorder."

Cowan's speech, which Haag posted to YouTube, is worth your time.

I was a normal kid, grew up in a middle class family, had friends in church. Played football, had friends on the football team, in band and orchestra. I was never bullied, never got into fights -- just a normal kid. But my mind would take me into a dark corner, where I suffered in silence, not knowing what was wrong.

In junior high, I didn't want to die. I just wanted the pain to stop. While I was at summer camp, an angel tapped me on the shoulder with a vision of my parents' faces in my head and I put away my Swiss Army knife back in my bag and cried myself asleep.

I can spend the next 10, 20 minutes talking about my struggles through college my 20s and 30s and -- every now and then -- even today. But I've talked enough about me. I'm not here to talk about me, I'm here to advocate for ... the four kids at Spence. I'm here to advocate for the 30 percent of adolescents who experience significant health, social, and emotional problems that affect their educational progress, and if I don't take this moment of time tonight while administrators are meeting with parents at Spence to use my position of influence to step out of my own shadow and highlight my own suffering story to highlight the needs of our kids who are suffering alone and who have nowhere to turn, if I don't take this moment of time, then I have failed as a community leader, and I've failed as a human being.

Here, he cites a 2011 New York Times article he'd distributed to his colleagues describing "wellness centers" established at schools in San Francisco and urged Dallas ISD to copy the program.

It's time to enhance our services...I'm asking you to form a task force of city, county, medical professionals to review our processes at [Dallas ISD's youth and family] centers and possibly not only enhance them but to expand to provide wellness centers, or at least wellness rooms, in all of our middle schools. Because I will tell you that a student suffering at Spence is not going to go to their parents, not going to go to their friends and say drive me to [Woodrow] Wilson so I can talk to somebody. Somebody suffering in silence may not know where to turn but if we have medical professionals in our buildings, certified qualified medical professionals who know how to engage in those campuses, then we might be able to stop another tragedy. Of course this will cost money, and I believe there are partners who will help us be more efficient. I appreciate what you've done tonight at Spence, but we're about five steps behind of what our kids need.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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19 comments
oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

I get the warning signs I do believe  they should known about and watched for.   However beyond that and there is a whole lot or territory beyond that. Unless the kids announce they plan to "End it All" there isn't a hell  of a lot anyone can do to stop them .

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Try looking at these kids as "children", not "students". There is a tendency for some to view every human problem as having a government-based solution. Some refer to this as "Statism", and it's a problem of both left and right.

Since children spend a great portion of the day in a government institution, it seems to lead to the idea that these government institutions are co-parents. Government schools were created for a single purpose - to educate. Due to the growing statist promises primarily from the left, and the leftist policies that have encouraged dissolution of the family unit, we have a serious problem that CANNOT be solved by the very people and ideological beliefs that created the problem in the first place.

Look at "Julia", the woman created by the Obama administration. Every step of her life, government is "there for her". Hate to break it to you, but if Julia is going to be dependent on daddy government all her life in one way or another, Julia is screwed, and her kids are screwed, our society is screwed. The road to serfdom is paved with government good intentions.

Look at it this way, if you're a statist who sees all problems as problems of the state and therefore put your eggs in the state gasket, what happens when incompetent morons gain power?

You depend on the state, you fail with state. The state, by nature, becomes a beast intent only with its own survival, not yours. That's what Statists characterize as an "anti-government" philosophy, while their philosophy is "anti-human".

Ask Sean Penn, Danny Glover, and for that matter , Barack Obama how things are going with socialist states these days? Think it can't happen here? Well, comrades, It can, and is.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

We already have a shortage of classrooms, with almost every school having a handful of "temporary" buildings to handle the overflow..  So there aren't any classrooms to spare for a "wellness center".

Beyond that, when I looked up "Wellness Centers" in Dallas, I found that that they tend to be massage parlors.  So I can only imagine what it would be like if these people were contracted to run one in a public school.

The better move is to provide more training to teachers so that they can identify mental, emotional and psychological problems.  That way they can gear their presentations appropriately, and get mental health treatment for students when the problem is more than the teacher can handle.. 

The one thing we should NOT be doing is helping depressed students to further isolate themselves from their community.

LOOKatME-Rudeski
LOOKatME-Rudeski

It doesn't help when we live in a city that is under the (so called) moral control of people like Robert Jeffress and other (so called) leaders that spew homophobic comments daily and make it almost impossible for teens who are struggling with their sexuality.


Every time one of these hate mongers spew venom about gays going to hell, gays causing hurricanes, gays rape children and have sex with animals, and a teen hears this....and then is bullied by other students, then you are telling another teen they are NOT WORTHY of life.


Thankfully there are programs like The Trevor Project or the It Gets Better videos that remind our youth that they are awesome just the way they are.   And while they may have parents who spew the same hate doesn't mean the world will not accept them as they are. 


Suicide is never the answer.  And your "elders" aren't always right.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@oakclifftownie

On the contrary - waiting until a kid announces he's going to kill himself is the least effective way to prevent suicide. 

Giving them a way to discuss their problems before it gets to that point is a much better solution.


Elizabeth
Elizabeth

@ruddski  We base school funding on property taxes and in our state "property taxes" or any kind of  "taxes" are demonized. Your rant is clearly based on fear and a lot of misinformation. Maybe take it to your political club with like-minded people like yourself. It has no place in a rational conversation. All the best.

Tom434
Tom434

@bvckvs The wellness center referenced in the article at Woodrow is a couple of portables in the parking lot.  I believe it use to be run by Parkland but I may wrong about that

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

@testiclestrokingbigot

Nowhere in this article, or the DMN, or cowan's speech is any mention of "sexuality".

I suspect the reason you introduced that unsupported contention is so you can blame the people you are so obviously bigoted against.

Sexuality and race are the only arrows in an ignorant leftist's quiver, that's why leftists can never solve the problems they create. It's why leftist societies collapse.

That's why ignorant anti-science leftist policies we're told everyone is desperate for ultimately have to be forced down the throats of the people. That's why leftist Utopias have to be, by nature, authoritarian.

You, my friend, are part of the problem.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@TeaBaggingJesus

Those programs only provide services to sexual deviants.  They don't provide any resources for ordinary people.


ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Good point, but for consistency from the left, shouldn't we focus more on eliminating all the various devices and means troubled children employ to commit suicide?

Ropes, guns, drugs, cliffs, sharp objects - these things have to go.

If it will stop school shootings, it can stop other effects of troubled youth.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

@Elizabeth

I see no mention nor demonization of taxes in my argument you're responding to.

My rant is based on knowledge of history, scientific study, statistics, personal observation and logic derived from the combination of all of the above.

I understand that those on the left often prefer that people of differing ideologies stay exclusively with their own ideological or political "club", and as such, often ban opposing views such as mine in that interest. Specifically, but not limited to the Democratic Underground, Little Green Footballs and Daily Kos.

I'm reasonably certain some who disagree with my positions here would, if they could, ban me in the interests of ideological diversity as well. But, you can't, so I suggest you either mount a logical, rational, on-topic rebuttal of my claims, or you can petition the proprietress to purge me, or you can ignore me.

That being said, would you care to illustrate where the "misinformation" is in my rant? Could you expound a bit on the nature of my "fear"? Could you rebut my "irrationality" with rational argument?

Because your reply, frankly, makes little sense, as the only specific you offered was regarding an argument I didn't make, didn't even mention. That doesn't strike me as entirely rational.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Tom434 @bvckvs

Dallas MHMR handles the city's free mental health services through Lifenet.  That brings up a whole nother bunch of problems here.

1.  Anti-government Republicans are already furious about public health care being provided at taxpayer expense.

2.  Evangelical Republicans feel that mental health should be handled by the churches.

3.  MHMR is focused primarily on providing services to convicts, domestic abuse victims and addicts.  They have a preference for chemical solutions, and have almost no counseling resources,

So if the city is going to provide mental health services to the 1.2m or so students - it's going to have to be diverted from other areas.

That's why I think the better, more efficient and more effective solution is to provide better psych training to educators.

LOOKatME-Rudeski
LOOKatME-Rudeski

@snowbunnylover2014 @TeaBaggingJesus I ask this with all sincerity.  Can you give me some examples of self hating racist leftist, or the ones that bug you?   I think I  know what you are making a reference to but just am curious what specifically bugs you.   And again I am not asking this in a derogatory way but am just curious.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

@snowbunny

If blacks suddenly started voting 98% Republican tomorrow, and within that community any deviation from the norm resulted in rousing condemnation, shunning and/or physical attack, the left would describe the black community as fascist, authoritarian and Brownshirt, and they would stress the historical folly and danger of "complete agreement" leading to "tyranny of the majority", oppression and dangerous lack of ideological diversity.

Reason being, the left is fully aware that complete agreement among the populace likely indicates state coercion, enforcement, and punishment for acting outside the interests of the state - because the state IS the people. Resistance to the state is resistance to the collective welfare.

Now, what's the over/under on our learned representatives of leftist ideology understanding my ultimate point here?

harleykarmadad
harleykarmadad

@ruddski Why is it that every one who has a different view than you needs to be ignorant, an idiot, foolish, socialist, leftist or some other derogatory slam?   

Is it that your arguments are always so weak and need some sort of bashing in hopes that no one will notice your contradictions or hypocrisy?  

It is clear that your primary goal is to push buttons, annoy and harass and maybe it stems from being such a non-entity but why not, from time to time, merely disagree, state your point and move on.  

Sad you have hijacked this blog with hate filled trolling and have made it impossible for rational people to have a rational discussion about various issues.  

Your need to turn a dialogue about an important issue into a teenage girl Facebook cat fight make you more than "part of the problem" it in essence makes you THE problem. Would you ever consider stating your view and editing out your incessant name calling.  Or perhaps just limit to one verbal bully comment per post?

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

@teabagger

I'll take a shot at that.

Pick any kid from the 'burbs who pitched his Hilleberg Rogen in Zuccotti Park, then checked into the Millenium Hilton.

That'll give you lots to choose from

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

@harley

I'll point out at the outset that this reply is dripping with sarcasm, condescension, veiled insults and mockery, so there will be no confusion.

------

Wow, dude, you sure did an excellent job of deconstructing the arguments I put forth. I never really looked at the ideas of prevention of teen suicide you've presented here.

As to my reply to the teabagging guy, I'm sorry it was entirely off-topic, and that pointing out that his argument was flawed from the git-go by referencing sexuality when that issue was never mentioned in the article. Sorry to have so callously hurt both his and your feelings by stressing facts. Facts are so mean!

And, in the future, I'll try to restrain my vicious personal attacks when my ideological and/or debate rivals devote such time to what Ann Althouse describes as "Civility bullshit" when staying entirely on topic.

Heretofore, when presented with an idiotic, dissembling, inaccurate mis-representation of facts and accompanying gentle stroking of my easily-bruised ego with undeserved compliments, I'll simply agree with that which makes no sense, then I'll compliment those who have, like you, bested my arguments by avoiding addressing them altogether, in order to make me aware of not only my deep personal problems, but my deleterious effect on the collective commentariat, which, apparently cries often.

I'll also, as I have demonstrated here, keep my replies pithy, and try to cut down on the number of posts so the DO can charge more for advertising here, because too much traffic drives advertisers away!

Now, feel better? How about some warm chocolate milk? Cookie? A hanky?

Buh-bye, better luck next time! I'll be rooting for you!

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