Another teen pulled off tracks as parents meet

June 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
In Palo Alto a mother managed to pull her son off the tracks as a train was bearing down. A good Samaritan came to her aid and together they got the teen to safety. The teen's apparent suicide attempt came at the same time the community was meeting to address what some say is a growing epidemic.

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The boy who tried to kill himself is a Gunn High School student and the two teens who killed themselves recently on the train tracks were also students at the same high school.

It started at 7:45 p.m. Thursday night, just 45 minutes into the parent's meeting. A mom told police she knew her son was upset and she followed him when he left the house. He headed to the train tracks where two students have gone before him.

"They were struggling mom and son I believe on the railroad tracks near Meadow Drive. A passing motorist stopped and assisted mother and they were able to summon police for help," said Palo Alto police agent Dan Ryan.

Police called the Caltrain dispatch and stopped the next train. They were also able to safely get the 17- year-old boy off the tracks and take him to the hospital. He tried to kill himself just north of the same train crossing where two other teenagers did kill themselves.

J.P. Blanchard stepped in front of a train on May 5th at the East Meadow Drive crossing. Sonya Raymakers did it on Tuesday night. Both were students at Gunn High School in Palo Alto.

This latest attempt came while a panel discussion on suicide was going on at Cubberly Auditorium in Palo Alto. All 350 seats were taken as well as the aisles and the lobby, were full. Parents and mental health experts heard the news of the suicide attempt as they were leaving.

"Kids are having problems. I'm not surprised. This meeting has no effect on a lot of the teens and the teens in that kind of pain aren't going to be thinking about 'Oh well the community is trying to help.' It's so personal, it is so dark," said Susan Mirbach Board President for Adolescent Counseling Services.

"I think you've got an epidemic spreading and yes, we've got to take charge of the situation," said psychiatrist Bruce Bienenstock, M.D.

Bienenstock says it's going to take a personal grass roots effort to get this under control. He told the school board president that counselors need to go from class to class and talk about this with the students. Counselors need to tell students that if they report a troubled friend, that isn't snitching, it's helping and possibly saving a life.

Another big message at the meeting was that parents need to keep the lines of communication open with their teenagers.

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