Two teens from two separate Bethesda-area high schools have taken their own lives since Nov. 27, one week ago.
The tragedies bring the number of teen suicides in Montgomery County to at least five in 2017, according to Mary Anderson, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.
There were three deaths each in 2016 and 2015, Anderson said.
Sixteen-year-old Jordana “JoJo” Greenberg, a student at Whitman High School died November 27, according to an email announcement by the school's principal.
Sixteen-year-old Thomas "Tommy" Silva, a student at Walter Johnson High school died December 2.
“Tommy’s sudden death reminds us all of just how precious life is. Please know that the Silva family is very grateful for everyone’s thoughts and prayers,” Walter Johnson principal Jennifer Baker wrote in an email to parents. “It is at times like this we are reminded that we are indeed fortunate to have such a caring community.”
Teens need to educate themselves on 5 warning signs in themselves and friends that could suggest a risk of suicide and think ahead about a trusted adult they can talk to, according to Sue Rosenstock a founder of UMTTR.org, a Montgomery County-based teen suicide prevention organization.
Rosenstock's son Evan was a 16-year-old basketball player at Churchill High School when he took his own life in 2013.
"It doesn't have to be a parent. It can be a teacher, school counselor or coach," Rosenstock said.
Adults face a huge challenge because teens are four times more likely to tell other teens about disturbing signs and feelings rather than an adult, according to Rosenstock.
UMTTR.org advocates for the adoption of a national suicide prevention strategy known as Sources of Strength in schools and colleges nationwide. Several Montgomery County Schools, including Walter Johnson and Whitman, participate in Sources of Strength, Rosenstock said.
Many young people are more comfortable reaching out by text, rather than calling a telephone suicide prevention hotline or discussing concerns in person. A crisis textline at 741741 puts people directly in touch with an individual who can help.
Meanwhile, Montgomery County Maryland offers help through BTheOne.org, which connects people in crisis directly to local services.
Other suicide prevention resources:
- Montgomery County 24-hour Crisis Center: 240-777-4000
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255