64ºF

Middle school student found dead on Lake Mary campus

School officials say student died in apparent suicide

Local 6 News at Noon

LAKE MARY, Fla. – A Lake Mary middle school student was found dead on campus Wednesday night in an apparent suicide, officials said.

Seminole County sheriff's deputies said the 14-year-old student's mother went to Greenwood Lakes Middle School to pick him up around 5 p.m. Wednesday but was unable to find him. She returned home and family members searched for the boy before reporting him missing to law enforcement a couple of hours later.

Deputies conducted an extensive search of the school and surrounding neighborhoods, and the boy was found dead inside a bathroom stall with a gunshot wound to the head, officials said.

Seminole County Public Schools issued a statement Thursday morning, saying, "We are deeply saddened to report the death of a Greenwood Lakes Middle School student."

School officials said grief counselors will be available for students and staff.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the parents and family of the student as they deal with this tremendous personal loss," SCPS said.

The school has 671 students, about 300 of which either signed out early or were absent Thursday, according to district officials.

"I saw (my daughter) crying and she said, 'Mom, did the school call you?' and I said, 'No.' She said, 'I heard something happened to someone at school,'" said Nadine Walker, whose daughter is in the eighth grade.   "There was just something that says, you know, I didn't feel right about it. I just didn't feel right leaving her here."

The school also canceled its open house, which was scheduled for Thursday night.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is a leading cause of death in people ages 15 to 24, topped only by  accidents and homicide. The area director of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, Tara Sullivan, says it's important for parents to know when it's time to find your child help.

"I know a lot of parents see typical adolescent behavior and they don't know where to draw the line, but a cry for help is a cry for help. And if your children are using words like 'hopeless' and saying they want to take their lives or 'You won't have to worry about me anymore,' those would be red flags," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said other signs that may mean someone, especially a teenager, is at risk for suicide include feeling humiliated, having intense anxiety or panic attacks, becoming socially isolated, acting irritable and feeling like a burden to other people.

Lifeline is a hotline staffed 24 hours a day, offering counselors to talk about suicide and suicide prevention.  The number is 800-273-TALK.

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office is conducting a death investigation.

Watch Local 6 News and stay with ClickOrlando.com for more on this story.