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State Leaders along with Killingly parents rally at state capitol for student mental health resources

In a mental health nonprofit survey last year on Killingly students 7 to 12 grade, nearly 30% of respondents reported that they’ve had thoughts about self-harm.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut’s youth mental health has been a huge topic of conversation, especially in the Killingly School District.

State leaders joined concerned parents, teachers, and community members at the State Capitol to rally in support of a mental health center.

The overarching message at the “Save our Children” rally is: “Mental health is undeniably linked to academic success,” said Killingly High School teacher, Lisa Higgins.

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When Killingly school board was presented a proposal in March for a grant-funded, school-based mental health center, they said no.

Then, parents stepped in filing a complaint against the board in April.

“This is not just a Killingly issue. Mental health support is a community issue,” said parent, Kristine Cicchetti.

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Now, the state Department of Education is investigating whether voting down the proposal violated the “educational interest of the state.”

Concerned community members, parents, and teachers are continuing to speak out too.

“We are not satisfied with the support that our community is receiving especially giving the straggling statistics about how many students are considering harming themselves as well as have a very specific plan for suicide,” said teacher, Janelle Provecher.

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In a mental health nonprofit survey late last year of Killingly students from 7 to 12 grade, nearly 30% of the respondents reported that they’ve had thoughts about hurting themselves. 14.7% have made suicide plans.

With school starting back soon, advocates say they want the best for the students

“This is a do or die kind of situation so we stand with right or we fall with the wrong ladies and gentlemen,” Kate Dias with the Connecticut Education Association.

FOX 61 reached out to the school board for a statement. We were told the board approved a new program at their last special meeting called Rachel’s Challenge to address social and emotional needs of their students. We are waiting to learn more about exactly what this program is and where the funding comes from.

DeAndria Turner is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. She can be reached at dturner@fox61.com. 


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