Experts Highlight Teen Mental Health Warning Signs After Edmond School Threat

Sunday, March 15th 2015, 4:59 pm
By: News 9

Some metro parents are still reeling after learning a student at Edmond North was reportedly planning a mass-casualty event. But authorities said the quick actions of the student's parents, peers and professionals stopped the potential tragedy.

Despite the fact that it ended somewhat peacefully, some parents said they are still unsettled.

Nina Romano said her son attends Edmond North High School and she's still shaken up over Friday's threat.

“Being a parent, you don't want to think about having to bury your children. You don't. I mean, that's your worst nightmare,” she said.

Friday morning Edmond police said they discovered evidence that a 16-year-old student was in what they called “the building and testing phase” with fuses, had blueprints of explosives and quoted others who carried out school mass-casualty events.

“Why? Does anybody know why this happened? Why was he thinking about doing that? That's the biggest question,” Romano said.

Investigators said they are still trying to figure out the answer to that question, shared by many metro parents. But as we all know, and Director of Counseling at Sunbeam Family Services Teresa Deck explained, teen years can be a turbulent time for some children.

“They have all kinds of stress and pressure and so sometimes it just builds up and sometimes the adolescents can handle the pressure and some can't,” Deck said.

“And now this stress of, ‘OK, if I go to school am I going to be safe today?'” Romano added.

Deck said parents can look for warning signs that their child might be struggling.

“Anytime they see any warning signs of depression or sadness or anger or other changes in behavior such as sleeping more or sleeping less, eating … They need to be aware that those are signs that something may be going on that is serious,” Deck told News 9.

Deck said long periods of irritability or anger or not wanting to do things they usually enjoy doing are other signs. And like the students at Edmond North did, Deck said parents should take those signs seriously and get them help, because speaking up could potentially save lives.

“To me they're heroes,” Romano said. “They did what some kids … a lot of kids may not do. A lot of kids may just brush it off. They didn't and if it wasn't for them who knows what could've happened.”

Deck also encouraged concerned parents to talk with their kids about suicide.

“Don't be afraid to ask, ‘Are you thinking of killing yourself?' That's very difficult for some people to ask, but it's very, very important and it doesn't lead people to kill themselves. It lets them know that you are concerned about them and you care about them,” she explained.

Sunday police said there is no new information on the student's motive. And police said he is still receiving inpatient care.

Edmond police said they are looking at potential charges of possession and manufacturing explosives.

Learn more about suicide prevention.