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Letter to Parents on Alliy's Suicide

'I am deeply saddened to inform you that the police have called off the search for Allison Bayliss, and that they believe that she took her own life,' San Ramon Valley High Principal Joseph Ianora wrote in a letter to parents this afternoon.

San Ramon Valley High Principal Joseph Ianora is encouraging parents to talk to their children about the loss of their classmate, Alliy Bayliss, .

Students may be able to cope better when they're urged to talk about their feelings, he said.

Here's the text of a letter he sent to parents this afternoon:

To San Ramon Valley High parents,

I am deeply saddened to inform you that the police have called off the search for Allison Bayliss, and that they believe that she took her own life. This tragedy touches the lives of all of us in the San Ramon Valley High School community and our heartfelt sympathy is with Alliy’s family.

Understanding that many students and parents already have this information, we felt the need to communicate to our community as soon as possible. 

We will do everything in our power to support our students, staff and parents this week and into the future, as our community deals with this terrible loss. The district crisis team, including school counselors and psychologists from our school and other district schools, will be on campus through the week. Our staff has already been informed and is meeting to talk about how we can best provide support to our students.

Additionally, district administrators will be present on the campus to assist the staff with a variety of needs. While the school and district staff will continue to provide support during the school day, there are things you can do to support your child as well.

Some common grief symptoms that you may see in your child include: sudden changes in behavior, lack of appetite, difficulty in focusing, acting silly or angry, feelings of worthlessness or self-hatred, and expressing unexpected emotion. Some students may withdraw. How children work though their grief depends largely on how family members reach out to them. The more children are encouraged to share their feelings, the more they will be able to cope with their loss. Acknowledging loss together as a family, can give comfort and support, even in the midst of pain and sorrow.

Our school psychologists are also available to parents during school hours. Additionally, there are available, including Discovery Counseling Center (925-820-1988) and the Contra Costa Crisis Center (800-273-8255).

We know that many of you will want to express your care and concern. At this time the school is respecting the family’s privacy. Until we have more information, if you would like to send cards or other condolences, please send them to the school office, and we will deliver them to the family.

During this difficult time, the care and concern of each member of our school community is our highest priority as we grieve this loss together. Please feel free to contact the school if you have any questions. 

Sincerely,

Principal [Joseph Ianora]

Janice P Ellis May 26, 2011 at 11:30 PM
I totally agree with your comment about medication being the key, Dr. Pinklewhip. Several years ago, as I went through a devastating downsizing from AT&T, while I wasn't suicidal, the stress from having to go through a second difficult downsizing seven years apart was just too much. At that point, I went on Wellbutrin for about nine months. Just as my counselor said it would, it put me on a "level playing field" again. The suicide of Allison Bayless is a really sad example of the complexity of suicide. It's scary and very disconcerting to know that some people who believe suicide is the only answer to their pain will try to keep their plans to kill themselves from being discovered, when I had always thought having a friend or loved one discover what they had been planning would be a relief to that person. As parents, all we can do is make sure our children always know that we are there for them and that they can always talk to us about everything, including things in life that are bothering them...no judgements, no shame...just listen. Still, we don't live in a perfect world, and our children won't always come to us with our problems, no matter how much they know we love them, and no matter how many times we say "...if you ever need to talk, I'm always here to listen..." In those cases, my prayer for all young people, or anyone who is feeling like suicide is their only option, would be that they reach out to someone. Suicide is not the answer.
Lafmom May 27, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Is no one else wondering why school never contacted the parents to report her absence from school? Why would they not know till she didn't arrive home? Doesn't help now, but an important part of this story that has been given little attention. My heart breaks for you Alliy and your family and friends.
Scott Taggart May 28, 2011 at 05:07 AM
Pix of Alliy running: http://www.dropbox.com/gallery/10364625/1/Alliy%20Bayliss?h=58ca52
Laura Keels May 28, 2011 at 05:33 AM
I was a student at SRVHs back in 1990-1994. I ended up transferring from SRV to MV for my senior year. I was very unhappy. This was my junior year. The one teacher that haunted me was Mrs. Hunter from Chemistry. Her class was worse than college. She made me feel like I was nothing. My best friend was valevictorian and she had her own insecurities. My junior year in HS was one of the worst years of my life. My saving grace was living abroad in Ecuador with a program called Amigos de las Americas. I lived in Ecuador and vaccinated dogs for 8 weeks. I felt useful and a sense of purpose and I realized that high school was nothing in the big scheme of things. Even if I had to still go though another year of it. I just wasn't as affected after living in another country versus the bubble of Danville where i grew up.
Janice P Ellis May 28, 2011 at 08:11 PM
Laura, I was really struck by your post. While certainly none of us who didn't know Allison have any understanding of why she made the decision to take her life, some who have posted have brought up bullying as one of the possible causes. But, sometimes it's not fellow students who make our high school years traumatic - it's teachers and/or counselors. I'll never forget my high school counselor, and one particular "mandatory" meeting with him during my sophmore year. Despite having a childhood that can only be described as hell on earth, I carried a solid 3.00 gpa all through high school. I never got in trouble, got along well with other students and teachers, and just did the best I could, despite the hell I had experienced since early childhood. During that meeting, my counselor, Dr. Palmer Whitted, at Berkeley High School, told me I "didn't have what it took" to go to college. This came from a man who was highly regarded in his field. The fact that he was African-American, as am I, just seemed to make his words more tragic to me. Then, instead of asking me what dreams I had for my future, he spent the rest of my meeting with him bragging about how much money he earned. Even though I later ended up being admitted to a state university, I spent the entire time I attended there with his "...you don't have what it takes..." ringing in my ears. Almost 45 years later, I've never forgotten that counselor and the harm he caused. Teachers can be bullies too.

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