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Bullying and suicide prevention focus for new community group in Clayton

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CLAYTON — Two months after the suicide of Thousand Islands Central School student Daniel J. Briggs, a new community group hopes to nurture healing and suicide-prevention measures with the help of residents.

“We set a date to form a committee to educate and support the river communities on preventing suicide and bullying,” Lori Wilson Arnot said.

The committee will focus on local issues surrounding bullying and look at how the problem is being resolved nationally.

Mrs. Arnot said she and the Rev. John Crosswaite of Christ Episcopal Church formed the group.

The community meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Mrs. Arnot said it is open to anyone from teenagers up. “We will get the best results if we attract the broadest responses,” Mrs. Arnot said.

She said things are still at the beginning stages. “Bullying, youth suicide — it’s happening everywhere, not just here,” Mrs. Arnot said.

She said the community is still coping with 16-year-old Daniel’s suicide March 3. “It’s a process to heal, and we need to process this tragedy as a community to help heal,” Mrs. Arnot said. “We need to work together to try and prevent our kids from doing this in the future.”

Thousand Islands Central School Superintendent Frank C. House said earlier that the school’s budget calls for a counselor to work primarily in the high school.

The counselor is meant to help school community members who were identified as being at risk after Daniel’s suicide.

Mr. House said that in the fall, two programs will be implemented at the high school and elementary school.

The Sources of Strength youth suicide prevention program is suited for the high school. In the elementary school, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program will be implemented.

“I’m not feeling critical towards the school,” Mrs. Arnot said. “I feel they’re doing the best they can. But bullies aren’t going to stop over the summer. I need to make sure my needs are being met as a parent and that my daughter’s needs are being met.”

For more information, call Mrs. Arnot at 767-4112 or email at loriarnot@gmail.com.

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