Mountain View High School officials told parents in an email Monday afternoon that one of the school's students, Eddie Keep, has died.
Principal Dave Grissom's letter to parents said that despite the summer break, support services will be available for students affected by the loss, including CHAC therapists as well as district administrators and teachers.
Grissom said the district will not share information about the cause of death, honoring a request from the family, but acknowledged that there are rumors that Keep died by suicide. Grissom's message does not confirm or deny the rumors, instead stating that now is an "opportunity" for parents to have an open dialogue about mental health.
"Suicide, when it does occur, is a very complicated act," Grissom said in the letter. "It is usually caused by a mental disorder such as depression, which can prevent a person from thinking clearly about the problems of his or her life and how to solve them."
Some students already grieving the loss of relatives or loved ones may have a heightened reaction to their classmate's death, and parents may need to keep a "watchful eye" on them, he said.
The Mountain View-Los Altos High School District has a range of student wellness services, including in-house therapists, who are available to assist students. Several hotlines are available on the district's website, and families are encouraged to call Clinical Services Coordinator Susan Flatmo at 510-387-6271.
Flatmo said Wednesday that the district's decision to refrain from sharing the circumstances of Keep's death while acknowledging the speculation surrounding it is an important one.
"We live during a time in which suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens, behind accidents. Not acknowledging our students’ speculations about suicide would have left them alone to navigate their thoughts, feelings and questions about this subject," Flatmo told the Voice in an email. "Our aim was to use the fact that there was some speculation about suicide as a doorway for parents to connect with their teens so that their teens would not be alone with thoughts about suicide and the loss of a teen -- perhaps someone they knew and had an interaction with."
Any person who is feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal can call 1-800-784-2433 to speak with a crisis counselor. People in Santa Clara County can call 1-855-278-4204. Spanish speakers can call 1-888-628-9454.