“We’re asking our community to pay attention to themselves and each other and show extra care and kindness to themselves and one another,” said Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) Public Information Officer Jennifer Dericco. “Make sure that if they’re struggling themselves or see someone else struggling that they guide them to the counseling available or they let another adult know to check in on them.”
On Wednesday night, 12th grader Emiliano Li-Cortes took his own life. Li-Cortes was a member of the Chargerettes drill team, wrestling and the CHAMPS culinary arts program. The boy’s father gave permission to the District to release his son’s name.
The Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) says the tragic death has no connection to the investigation into a bullying incident involving a Wilcox High School cheerleader that occurred on Oct. 18. Capt. Wahid Kazem with the SCPD says Li-Cortes was never interviewed regarding that incident.
The district also refuted those rumors.
“We are hearing that some in the community have speculated that Emiliano is a student involved in recent incidents reported on by the media over the last several weeks,” said the SCUSD statement. “He is not that student nor is he connected in any way. Additionally, we can never know all the complex reasons for someone’s suicide. We ask that you help limit and dispel rumors, which may cause increased anxiety for our students, families, and the community.”
SCUSD has provided district grief counselors to students at Wilcox High School and has brought in outside counselors from Santa Clara’s Bill Wilson Center and Kara, a grief support center based in Palo Alto.
See Something Say Something
School administrators and district officials want students to know that they are not alone and help is available.
“Suicide is never an answer, we are here to help,” said Dericco. “In an emergency situation, they should let an adult know right away if someone is concerned about themselves or someone else. There is a 24-hour suicide hotline printed on the back of every student ID card. That’s an additional resource that’s 24 hours a day.”
Experts say look for changes in behavior or new behaviors in someone you love, especially if that person has been through a painful event, experienced loss or drastic change. Many people exhibit warning signs.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, if someone talks about killing themselves, feeling hopeless, having no reason to live, being a burden to others, feeling trapped or in unbearable pain, that could be a warning sign.
Look for increased use of drugs or alcohol. If you notice someone searching online for ways to end their life, withdrawing from activities, isolating from family and friends, sleeping too much or too little, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, giving away prized possessions, aggression or fatigue, say something to an adult.
The Foundation says people who are at risk also appear depressed, have anxiety, lose interest, are irritable, experience humiliation or shame, agitation or anger, and relief or sudden improvement.
If you are ever worried, or even unsure, you should talk to an adult or expert.
If you or someone you know is in a desperate state, there are people to talk to. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is (800) 273-8255. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Santa Clara County also has a suicide and crisis hotline open day or night. That number is (855) 278-4204. You can also visit the county’s website, www.sccbhsd.org/suicideprevention.