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Dozens of Stoneman Douglas students walk out of class after recent classmate suicides

Students say more should be done regarding mental health

PARKLAND, Fla. – Some students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School walked out of classes Wednesday morning following the recent suicides of two fellow students who were on campus the day of the 2018 mass shooting at the Parkland school. 

Sky 10 was above the campus just before 11 a.m. as what appeared to be about 100 students walked out of the school.

The walkout was fairly loosely organized. 

Students told Local 10 News reporter Saira Anwer they communicated over Snapchat and different social media platforms and planned the walkout over spring break. 

Some students walked to their cars and drove home while others walked to a park. There was no designated rallying space. 

A few students planned to go back to class after walking out. 

The students who spoke to Anwer said they wanted to make a point by walking out to highlight the issue that not enough is being done regarding mental health in light of two traumatized students taking their own lives. 

"The school district sending out scripts for each of the personalization teachers to read to us isn't helping," MSD freshman Hailey Jacobsen said. "The bananas and granola bars aren't helping. The painted rocks and the cards aren't helping. They're sweet but not as comforting as we want them to be."

Broward Sheriff's Office deputies were at the school blocking off traffic to make sure the students could walk safely. 

In an afternoon news conference, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie highlighted the resources provided since the shooting and since the latest deaths, citing 23 additional trauma trained mental health professionals on site at MSD this week along with suicide prevention staff trainings,offsite resources and professional consultations.

Runcie mentioned that the new Eagle Haven community wellness center in Coral Springs has been well utilized this week for mental health and trauma services. 

"If you're feeling stressed, you're feeling depressed, you have any type of concern that we have specifically deployed and placed individuals at your school to help you, specifically, deal with whatever challenges you have," Runcie said. "If you're not comfortable in a school environment, we've created other opportunities outside the school."

The director for the National Center for School Crisis said Broward County schools have been unusually receptive to advice and improvement. 

"We're not going to get it 100 percent right for, you know, 3,000 students and over 200 administrators at this school and collateral ripple effects that have gone throughout the community -- that's just not realistic," Runcie said. 

About the Author:

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.