Vt. student takes his own life inside school - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. student takes his own life inside school

Connor Menning Connor Menning
John Alberghini John Alberghini

Jericho, Vermont - January 18, 2011

The school day had not even quite begun at Mount Mansfield Union High School when a staff member discovered a student lying on the floor of a bathroom, shot and critically wounded.

"Something like this is hard to rationalize," Chittenden East Superintendent John Alberghini said.

The school was immediately placed on lockdown. A staff member called 911 and first responders arrived and started CPR, but it was too late. Connor Menning, 15, of Huntington, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound from a handgun. An unexpected tragedy that's left this school community in shock.

"It's hard to describe in words really," Alberghini said. "I really just feel terrible for this family and this young man's friends and for him, so I'm very, very sad."

Grief counselors were immediately called in to speak with students, teachers and staff.

"Vermont State Police encourage students, parents, and educators to ask for help," Vt. State Police Lt. Brian Miller said.

But many are now wondering how this could have happened.

"Details about the weapon, the student's mental health and steps leading up to this are not available," Miller said.

The shooting happened just a day after faculty and staff at the school had completed a suicide prevention course.

"We're certainly going to take a long hard look at the incident once we have all the information and the details and address any of our procedures accordingly," Alberghini said.

As for Menning's friends and fellow students, they were kept in the classroom following the tragedy and scheduled exams at the school continued as normal.

"We thought it was in the best interest of the kids to keep them in school where they could get support through this," Alberghini said.

Trying to maintain a routine on a day that will be hard to forget.

The school promptly notified parents of the incident as soon as police were able to reach Menning's family. But they say they will evaluate their emergency response procedures in light of the shooting.

HowardCenter's suggestions for help and information on dealing with grief and suicide:

  • HowardCenter -- www.howardcenter.org
  • HowardCenter First Call for Children & Families -- 802-488-7777
  • HowardCenter Adult Crisis -- 802-488-6400
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention -- www.afsp.org
  • www.maine.gov/suicide -- has great resources and a postvention guide for schools
  • Parents can also reach out to the school staff-guidance counselor, school psychologist, mental health counselors or social workers. HowardCenter has mental health providers in many schools. 
  • Pediatricians or primary care doctors can be a resource.
  • If someone has a counselor or psychiatrist they see already, talking to that person.
  • Support from clergy-pastoral counseling.

Keagan Harsha - WCAX News

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