• 11 investigates suicides going unreported at local schools

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    Each year, Pennsylvania schools submit data to the state Department of Education. That data includes information about crimes committed on school property, like assaults and bullying. Included in that data is supposed to be the number of students who took their own lives.

    But 11 Investigates' Aaron Martin found that not a single school in Western Pennsylvania has reported a suicide in the last two years.

    Destinee Krebs, 14, took her own life more than two years ago when she was a freshman at Valley High School in the New Kensington-Arnold School District. But for her parents, the pain never goes away.


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    "You learn to realize they're never coming back. But you also learn to embrace the moments you have with the ones you love," said Julie Krebs, Destinee's mother.

    The Krebs family said they hope no other family ever experiences their pain, which is why they've shared Destinee's story. But they're concerned the story may not be reaching the right people.


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    11 Investigates dug into the state’s Safe Schools' data, which school districts across the state submit to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

    During the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 schools years, none of Western Pennsylvania's 116 school districts reported a single suicide. Among those suicides not reported was Destinee Krebs."Young souls are being lost. It's not just tragic for the children that are affected, but for the parents," said Julie Krebs.

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    Deputy Secretary of Education Matthew Stem said part of the reason no schools are reporting suicides is because it's voluntary to do so.

    "There's nothing in the statute of the law that requires districts to report," Stem said.

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    He added the Pennsylvania Department of Education works with a number of groups on ways to prevent teen suicides, but admitted it can be difficult to understand the full extent of the problem when there's no requirement for schools to report.

    "We're always looking for more robust data sets that can help us have a very clear picture of what's happening," Stem said.

    While the extent of the issue of teen suicides is unclear, some schools have taken a proactive approach to prevention.

    At West Mifflin High School, a club called Stand Together is aimed at dealing with the issue of teen suicide head-on.

    "I joined the club because I saw other people struggling like I did, and I want to help them," said Morgen McCracken, a senior and president of the club who has dealt with depression.

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    More than 80 students are a part of Stand Together, which focuses on reaching teenagers throughout the school and preventing future tragedies.

    "This happens in our school and it's not isolation. You need people to surround you and you need love and support to get better," said McCracken.


     

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