School district offers resources to help community deal with death of student
by Lisa Church
The Times-Independent
Feb 02, 2017 | 3722 views | 0 0 comments | 110 110 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lily McClish
Lily McClish
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Hundreds of community members gathered at the Grand Center Tuesday, Jan. 31 to celebrate the life of Grand County Middle School student Lily McClish. The 13-year-old who loved horses and “liked to ride fast,” was talented at drawing, felt passionately about the need for tolerance and acceptance, and wanted to learn to speak Farsi, died by suicide on Jan. 26, family members said.

“I want to say how grateful we are to all of you here and [for] the love of this community,” Lily’s mother, Molly McClish, told the standing-room only crowd assembled at the Grand Center on Tuesday. “You created this web of love and held us up so we could be with our grief. This is not something anybody wants to ever hear or experience.”

McClish spoke frankly of Lily’s struggle with depression and efforts to help her deal with it. She said she and Lily spoke openly about her daughter’s feelings and Lily was seeing a mental health therapist.

“She was very depressed,” McClish said. “I know a lot of her classmates are also struggling with depression. Depression is a disease, like cancer, and it can kill you. And it did. I believed I would know if she got to that point ... And she promised [to tell me]. And she broke her promise to me.”

She said Lily believed strongly in the importance of tolerance and accepting others and struggled with what she perceived as injustice.

“Ond of the things Lily struggled with was lack of tolerance. Especially for LGBTQ [people],” McClish said. “She felt there wasn’t enough tolerance. I hope when you see someone who’s in that group of people [you’ll reach out to them.]”

McClish also urged other parents and community members to help kids and teens know that resources are available to help them deal with challenges.

“Make your children talk to people,” McClish said.

Her uncle, Justin Mathson, described Lily as a “free spirit” who was “very sensitive at times” and “very passionate about things.”

“She saw the pain that people put each other through,” he said. “ ... [She] wanted people just to love each other.”

A family friend recalled Lily’s love of animals of all kinds, and how close she was with her family, describing how the girl would tape signs on her mother’s bedroom walls saying “I love you, Mommy.”

“I’m told she just got too sad to stay,” the friend said. “But her soul remains in our hearts ... You can’t legislate ... love or kindness. What we can do is remember that kind heart of Lily’s. And we can stay ... and try to be like this beautiful girl.”

Later during the memorial ceremony, McClish spoke directly to her daughter’s eighth-grade classmates, assuring them no one is to blame for Lily’s death and asked them to carry her daughter’s spirit of kindness with them.

“Lily is still with you,” McClish said. “She will be with you every time you do something nice for someone.”

School district is

providing resources

Grand County School District officials told middle school and high school students about Lily McClish’s sudden death on Thursday. Molly McClish is a teacher at Grand County High. Public forums were held Monday, Jan. 30 at the high school and Jan. 31 at Moab Regional Hospital to provide information and tools to help community members support local kids in dealing with Lily’s death. The forum, led by Kim Myers, a suicide prevention coordinator with the Utah Department of Human Services, included information about suicide and mental illness in adolescents, including risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and common reactions following a suicide.

Additional mental health counselors were brought to both campuses to help students deal with their grief and answer questions. GCSD superintendent Scott Crane said counselors will be made available to students “for as long as needed,” and he encouraged parents to contact the school or district office if a student is in need of additional assistance.

“We will help you find the resources you need,” Crane said in a letter sent to parents on Friday. “ ... Please let us know if you have serious concerns about the effect this event is having on your child or any of their friends. This is a time we must come together and be ears and eyes for each other as we seek to nurture and protect the children in our midst and teach them how to seek help when they need it. We must reinforce positive options our children can employ when life is difficult, as well as how they can access these options.”

School officials are also providing parents and guardians with information designed to help them talk with their children about depression and other mental health issues, as well as helping them cope with a fellow student’s death. Resources are available on the school district’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GrandSchools, and the district’s website, www.grandschools.org.

Anyone who needs immediate help is encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, Crane said. Four Corners Behavioral Health also has a crisis line available during the day at 435-259-6131, ext. 0, or individuals can call the Grand County Sheriff’s Office after 5 p.m. at 435-259-8115 and the sheriff’s office will contact a professional with Four Corners Behavioral Health. Those needing help may also call Moab Regional Hospital at 435-719-3500.

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