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Palm Coast Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016 2 years ago

School district counsels students after two former Matanzas High School students die by suicide

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Lindsay Brockhaus, 20, died by suicide Jan. 19. Her friend Cora Ann Engel, 18 and also a former Matanzas student, died by suicide on Dec. 17, 2015.
by: Jacque Estes Community Editor

School district staff are helping Matanzas High School students and staff face the loss of another former student, who died by suicide last week. Lindsay Brockhaus, 20, died on Tuesday, Jan. 19; her best friend Cora Ann Engel, 18, also a Matanzas graduate, died by suicide on Dec. 17, 2015. 

In response to the deaths, Matanzas school counselors are available to any student or staff member who needs to speak with someone. The need for a task force, generally used for crisis situations that involve students enrolled in a Flagler County school, has not been activated. 

“It's a large community issue, and we are working as partners to provide information that is available,” school information specialist Jason Wheeler said. In addition to aiding current students, Wheeler said in an email, “counselors have reached out to past graduates they know who knew these two former students to offer them support and counseling, as well as referring them to mental health partners we work with on a regular basis.”

On a long-term basis, Wheeler said, the district works on campus with the school psychologist and guidance counselors to create individual or small-group counseling support groups for students who are struggling. The district also has a crisis team, made up of school psychologists, counselors and mental health specialists, which can respond immediately.

Family members who are concerned that a loved one may harm themselves can also call law enforcement, and deputies may be able to get someone help under the Baker Act, Sheriff’s Office spokesman James Troiano said in an email. The Baker Act lets authorities bring someone to an institution where trained professionals can evaluate them for up to 72 hours, and, if they’re a danger to themselves or others, hold them for treatment.

Families can also petition the courts for an ex-parte order, a court order mandating a person be picked up by law enforcement and taken to a receiving facility for evaluation, Troiano said.

— Jonathan Simmons contributed to this story.

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