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Students, Faculty Work To Prevent Suicides After String Of Recent Deaths

PALO ALTO (CBS SF) -- The death of a South Bay teenager on Caltrain tracks Monday morning is just the most recent in a string of suicides taking its toll on students and faculty at two Palo Alto schools.

Marc Vincenti of "Save the 2008" a grassroots campaign in reference to the number of students at Gunn High School said the recent deaths are "like an earthquake that has come through this community, and the fault line is still there and still active."

Since January, there have been eight Caltrain fatalities, and officials say seven of them have been suicides including students from Gunn and Palo Alto High Schools.

Vincenti is a former Gunn High teacher who lived through a rash of six student suicides in 2009.

The co-leader of the campaign is 16-year-old Martha Cabot, who posted a video to YouTube a few months ago, saying she was tired of seeing her classmates taking their own lives.  She is demanding change from her fellow students, and school officials.

"I'm trying to raise awareness, mostly for the parents," Cabot said.

"Save the 2008" has spoken before the school board at Gunn, demanding smaller class sizes and course loads, and less homework so that students and teachers can reconnect in a caring environment.

Here are some of the warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7 or locally, go to or call (415) 781-0500.

Facebook recently rolled out a new feature designed to help prevent suicides by allowing users to quickly alert someone if a friend appears to be thinking of harming themselves.

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