Richmond Public Schools on track to hit 600 student suicide assessments this year

At a Richmond City Council meeting Monday night, pleas from teachers to do something about youth violence.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 12:21 PM EDT|Updated: May. 9, 2023 at 1:04 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - At a Richmond City Council meeting Monday night, there were pleas from teachers to do something about youth violence.

“So the next time we have to hold a vigil for something tragic that happened to a Richmond Public School student or their family, I hope all of us can pause and ask ourselves, where was that family’s village,” said Elizabeth Forrester, an RPS teacher.

Teachers are advocating for more affordable housing so Richmond families and students have that sense of community.

“We can change their paths in the schools, but they’re going home to situations that again are detrimental to everything that they’ve been taught in school,” said Cruz Sherman, a gun violence prevention advocate.

The superintendent of RPS says they are on track to have 600 student suicide assessments this year. That’s a three to four-fold increase from years past.

We’ve seen that translation into violence unfold in many ways recently. In March, four RPS students were shot over the course of one weekend, leaving a 13-year-old dead.

At the end of April, Richmond Police arrested a student in connection to a double shooting outside George Wythe High School.

“Hire more counselors, hire more psychologists. Provide the kind of enrichment activities and experiences that help kids process everything they’re going through,” said Jason Kamras, Richmond Public Schools superintendent.

Meanwhile, Richmond Police say more than 136 guns have been stolen from unlocked cars this year alone.

“(If) you are a parent and a family that owns a weapon, I need you to lock that gun up. Lock it up,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

One of those guns took the life of a 13-year-old named Quan Mitchell. RPD says he was killed with a firearm stolen out of a car 18 hours earlier and just four blocks away.

“I’m not asking folks to be a helicopter parent, but I’m asking you to have some sort of baseline curiosity about what’s going on in your kid’s life,” said Stoney.

The mayor’s budget, which just passed, includes $1 million for the positive youth development fund as well as $244,000 for the We Matter Program, which Quan was a part of.