Inland Empire parents encouraged to talk to their kids following string of suicides

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (KABC) -- A string of recent suicides in Rancho Cucamonga has shaken the community, with the youngest victim a 10-year-old boy who attended Victoria Grove Elementary school.

A week later, two girls and a boy also took their own lives. The three high school students attended Etiwanda, Alta Loma and Rancho Cucamonga high schools.

"It is tragic something is going on that we're missing," Debbie Reyerse said.

Reyerse's husband is a teacher at one of those schools.

"It becomes very personal when your husband comes home and he is crying because it is him who lost a student," she said.

The San Bernardino County Department of Behavior Health said teenage suicides are on the rise. The agency said parents or a trusted adult play an important tool in prevention.

"To open that door is really important. To listen without judgment and then ask some probing questions gently and with love," director Veronica Kelley said.

Kelley adds it is also important to get your child help.

"Know when you should reach out for help," she said. "You can reach out to law enforcement, to your pediatrician, to a mental health provider that is really important."

Denise Lambiase said communication was key when it came to talking to her son following a string of suicides at his high school a few years ago.

"I just told him he had to talk to me, and I would help him because he had a friend that was really dealing with a lot stuff," she said.
Reyerse echoes the advice.

"It is communication, our children don't communicate any more. They are too stuck on their cellphones," she said.

The San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health offers mental health services. The Access Unit is a call center of mental health professionals that can refer you to the appropriate services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you need someone to talk to about suicide, you can find several helpful resources here at the website for California mental health resources.
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