Randall, Inova Loudoun to Host Teen Suicide Forum

Loudoun Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) announced Thursday that she will host her first community forum, a discussion on how to curb teen suicide.

Loudoun County has been rocked by a record number of teen suicides this year, including four Loudoun County Public Schools students last academic year in a school system that typically loses a student to suicide every other year.

That has already sparked a lot of work trying to make sure no more lives are lost—from the Acknowledge-Care-Tell booster program in schools, to Facebook groups, to the We’re All Human partnership between students, school counselors, teachers, and the Ryan Bartel Foundation. Suzie Bartel created that foundation after her son Ryan took his own life in 2014.

Randall’s office said the goal of the forum is to “continue the conversation, as county, on what we can do to prevent teen suicide.”

Loudoun County Chairman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) was at times tearful as she listened to introductions and prepared to take the oath of office.
Loudoun County Chairman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large). (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

The county’s closest neighbor to the east, Fairfax County, was the focus of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study in 2014 after its school system saw a spike in the number of students taking their own lives. The study found that high expectations for students, parental pressure on students for success and parental denial of mental health issues among their children were some of the key factors that led to suicide.

The rate of teen suicides has also increased nationally. In 2014, suicide became the second leading cause of death among youth, surpassing cancer.

The forum will be moderated by Neil McNerney, Randall’s appointee to the Community Services Board and an adolescent and family counselor.

Other panelists will include Loudoun County Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Development Services Division Director Michelle Petruzzello; Leesburg Community Church Pastor Doug Wall; LCPS Diagnostic and Prevention Services Director John Lody; INOVA Loudoun Hospital Children’s Emergency Department Clinical Director Gina Harrison; A Place To Be associate executive director Kim Tapper; The Ryan Bartel Foundation Director Suzie Bartel; and mental health advocate Danielle Rankin.

The forum will be held Monday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Inova Loudoun Hospital Conference Center, 44045 Riverside Parkway, in Leesburg.

No RSVP is needed. To take part in the conversation, submit questions ahead of time to elizabeth.bennis@loudoun.gov.


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