By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- Over this past winter, the city of Midland battled through the suicides of five teenagers. The epidemic was put in the media spotlight and the district announced a handful of plans it was working on to combat the issue.
However, some parents say it was a lot of hype with nothing to show for it.
At last weekend's Midland High School graduation, Brian Massey's eyes were filled with tears of sadness. His son, Brandon, was a senior when he took his own life just two days before Thanksgiving.
Brian says, "They put his name on the [graduation] roster but there wasn't any acknowledgement of him or any of these other children and it has just gone away."
Still devastated by the shock over his son's suicide, Brian listened to the graduation ceremony away from the crowd, in his car parked in the lot outside.
Brandon and four other Midland teens committed suicide within a four month-period.
Brian says the district told parents they were going to do everything in their power to fight the problem, but so far, he says there has been no sense of urgency in the district.
"The key word on everything is they're saying they're 'going to' and 'they will'. They didn't stop what they were doing when the people needed this and when the kids needed this," Brian said.
He says his other kids in schools throughout the district cannot find the help they need when their tough emotions get the best of them.
"My daughter goes to the office at Lee High School and says, 'I'm having a really bad day and I just really need to talk to somebody' and they tell her to go back to class because they're in testing. That's what happened," Brian said.
However, MISD Director of Student Development Ross Moss, says mental health-related issues take time and research to get up and running.
"It is something that cannot be done in a fast-food mentality approach," Moss said.
The district says there are a number of projects in the works, including plans to implement suicide awareness curriculum by sometime next year. They're also in the process of bringing on a specialized crisis counselor. Additionally, they will make all teachers take a one-hour online training class to be completed by the end of October.
"Now is when the work is being done," Moss said.
The district tells NewsWest 9 it will not turn their back on this problem. Although school is out for the summer, they will have counselors available on campuses until the end of June. After that, resources can be accessed on the district's website. Counselors will return to campuses at the end of July.
For more information, visit: www.midlandisd.net/