LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A 17-year-old girl took her own life Friday morning inside Lee's Summit North High School, and now the district, school, and community are dealing with the grief and shock; struggling to understand and move forward with wisdom and compassion.
"The district realizes that there will be hard questions coming their way as the investigation progresses, as the community mourns the loss and looks to prevention and 'did we do everything right?'" said Sgt. Chris Depue, Lee's Summit Police Dept.
The school was placed on lockdown after students heard a single gun shot coming from an area on the second floor at about 7:50 a.m. The district then decided to release students early. Everyone was out of the school in less than 45 minutes.
The Lee's Summit School District and police released the girl's identity Friday afternoon, saying she is a 17-year-old high school senior.
"Today, my heart—as well as our community’s heart – is breaking, and we appreciate the many staff and community members who are keeping Lee’s Summit North in their thoughts," said Superintendent Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter. Click here to read his statement in full.
Depue explained that the 'soft lockdown' the district rapidly initiated Friday morning helped police respond quickly to the situation.
"Every parent is sitting at home wondering, is my kid okay? Is my kid in danger? That stuff was done quickly. Again, kudos to the district for the way they handled it," said Depue.
He explained that the district's response and the composed behavior of students and staff helped police and paramedics get to the girl quicker. When asked why a 'soft' lockdown was chosen over a 'hard' lockdown, Depue explained that the difference is access to school from the outside.
"I think what they knew initially was that the incident was isolated to an upstairs bathroom. Once they determined that and began to call the lockdown, you have a choice. Do I call a soft or a hard? Really the main difference is exterior doors and the porousness of the building to allow first responders back in. That would be the main difference, exterior doors locked," he said.
"What it did for us this morning was it made it easier for the police officers and paramedics. We weren't wading through a sea of 400 students who might have been trying to help, to get to our victim. Paramedics were in and out in 10-15 minutes, Depue explained.
Due to the tragic loss, the school decided to postpone their game Friday against Blue Springs. The game will now be played Saturday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m.
"Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers," Superintendent Carpenter requested.
Depue said the school district is making calls to bring in counselors. He also added that 90 percent of Lee's Summit police officers are trained in crisis intervention. After school was released students went to a nearby church to pray for the teenage girl and their community.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately.
Go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
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