Everyday there are 117 suicides in the United States. Last Friday, unfortunately one of those was part of the After School community. Natalie Natividad of Hebbronville, Texas took her own life. Our deepest thoughts and condolences go out to Natalie’s family, friends, school community, and everyone else affected by this tragedy.
Natalie was a member of her school’s network on After School. When we learned of this tragic situation from local law enforcement officers investigating the case, we immediately supported and assisted them in their investigation. The investigation determined that it was not another student who made negative or bullying statements about Natalie. Unfortunately, she had posted the messages about herself. Our proactive moderation prevented these messages from being seen on the school’s feed.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline and other suicide prevention organizations report that it is not uncommon for young people to post cries for help or attention on social media. In some instances, these cries are not easily recognizable.
At After School, we care deeply about each and every one of our users. We have made it a priority to provide resources to teens to help them throughout high school, especially during the most difficult times. We partner with Crisis Text Line to connect students instantly with trained Crisis Counselors at any hour of the day in all 50 states. Natalie was offered an opportunity to connect with a counselor. We only wish that we could have done more to have helped her get help.
In memory of Natalie, we are implementing a suicide detection capability to help prevent self-harm that may be in progress. Currently, our FIRST system notifies authorities immediately when a potential threat involving a school is detected. We are going to broaden this functionality to alert authorities to potential suicides so that they can dispatch first responders to evaluate the welfare of a teen in need.
We will continue to provide, and commit to expand, a wide array of resources to help students throughout their high school years, including during difficult times. We encourage you to take a look at our Student Resource Center to see if any resources may be helpful to you.
Finally, we have made sure that additional Crisis Text Line counselors are available to chat with any students who may want to talk to someone about this tragedy or any other issues you are experiencing. If you are a member of After School, please text HI TIGER to 741741. If you are not a member of After School, please text START to 741741.
Michael Callahan and Cory Levy
Founders of After School