Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ponte Vedra Girls Survive Suicide Try at Landrum

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ponte Vedra Girls Survive Suicide Try at Landrum

Article excerpt

Byline: SHANNON HOUGHTON

After two Ponte Vedra Beach girls narrowly survived a double-suicide attempt that left them dangling from a tree outside their school, Landrum Middle School officials are working to comfort and educate students and parents as the new school year approaches.

Grief counselors will be on hand to talk with students starting Monday, St. Johns County school system spokeswoman Margie Davidson said Tuesday. Friday is the first day of school.

Late July 18 into the morning of July 19, the two 13-year-old girls went to the school, authorities said. They unplugged a vending machine so they could power a portable radio, St. Johns Sheriff's Office Sgt. Chuck Mulligan said.

One girl proceeded to hang herself with an electrical cord she probably brought with her, Mulligan said. Her companion, who had two suicide notes found later by police in a purse at her home, had second thoughts after hanging for about 10 seconds. She freed herself and called for help, authorities said.

Deputies were able to revive the other girl, who was still hanging, although she had no pulse and was not breathing when they arrived. She received treatment at Shands Jacksonville hospital.

The two girls, who will be eighth-graders, were not being identified by school or law enforcement officials. The girls told police they had planned the suicide four days earlier. Police did not release the content of the suicide notes.

Counselors are called in to supplement the school's two full-time counselors whenever something similarly traumatic happens, such as a recent car accident involving several students.

"It's happened, unfortunately, more often than we think," Davidson said. "It's unfortunately a situation that's all too prevalent in our society."

Landrum Middle Principal Beverly Gordon said the 1,080-student school is working with its parent-teacher organization to develop a seminar or series of programs to discuss middle school children's needs, including identifying signs of depression. …

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