We saw it happen last year with two girls at Olathe Northwest. We witnessed the devastation from the outside looking in. We talked about suicide prevention and spread awareness, but we were just one school district seeing another in pain.
But this year, the suicide happened at Shawnee Mission South, just one day before the South versus East football game. While it wasn’t highly publicized, the general public seemed to be aware of what had happened. This one was closer to home. But at that time, the rivalry between our schools were at its peak, and we didn’t know how to proceed.
And that’s where the problem lies. As South’s rival, we still aren’t sure how to react to the news. Should we attempt to continue the rivalry as usual whenever we’re competing with them? Or simply dial back the insults and the “South still sucks” chants at upcoming sporting events? Or maybe we should tone down the bitter rivalry for the time being – we could think about people other than ourselves, and in doing this, realize that South needs our help more than we need to put them down.
The Harbinger chooses the latter. We believe that the rivalry needs to be put on pause and saved for a later date. Whether it be over social media, face-to-face with South students or from one student section to the other, to perpetuate this rivalry is insensitive during a time of such pain.
The entire district, meaning all five high schools, must come together to educate and counsel their students through the aftermath of a student’s suicide. As a district, we need to step up and work to prevent this reoccurring problem.
Three years ago this Nov., senior Tyler Rathbun died. One of our own passed away, and the effects were reverberated through East, Prairie Village and the entire school district. Had South (or any other school) thrown any insult at us at the time, we would have seen it as disgustingly disrespectful.
So treat South as we, the Shawnee Mission East Lancers, would like to be treated if our community was in shock. Hold back from the taunts over Twitter, abstain from the insulting chants, catch yourself before you change the South Rocks to say SME. Instead, be educated and understanding in your treatment of our rival school. East must be supportive. We can do this through words of hope over social media and refraining from the rivalry in this time of devastation. This will show the maturity that East students truly possess.