OKEMOS, Mich. (WLNS) – Cornell elementary school will be closed on Tuesday after a body was found on school grounds.

It appears the dead person took their own life.

Okemos schools superintendent John Hood says they do not believe they had any connection to Cornell or Okemos Schools.

However, it’s possible students in 3rd-grade classrooms might have witnessed the scene

School officials say they’ve contacted those parents and guardians.

After situations like this, having a conversation with your kids about mental health, depression and suicide prevention can often be difficult.
But an expert says what matters is that they know you’re there for them.

“I think the very first thing that parents can do is to assure their children that they are safe. That they are there for them. They see them and they have their backs,” said clinical social worker, Jan Bidwell.

She says discussing mental health with children can be challenging. but doing so can save a life.

After a traumatic event, she suggests guiding a kid’s understanding.

“What have they heard, kids talk so they will have heard about it. But what they make of it? How did this happen? And then really really listen to what they say. Then I would ask the parents to not shy away from asking the hard questions,” she said.

Those hard questions can include asking them if they have thought about hurting themselves or felt so frustrated that they wanted to “give up”.

She says these talks can open the door and remind kids to care for one another.

“We emphasize with kids that if anyone tells you they want to hurt themselves. You’re not being a bad friend if you go to your parents or your teacher, you’re being a good friend,” she said.

Bidwell says parents should be curious and ask questions to find out how their child really feels.
She says these check-ins are also important during the teenage years. This becomes especially important if they start new medications like antidepressants.

“I think you need to be honest with them that the doctor said you may have more energy but you won’t really feel happier for four to six weeks so tell me how you’re feeling,” said Bidwell.

Bidwell suggests asking questions and having loved ones share more about how they feel.

Finally, she says not to wait if someone is saying they want to hurt themselves and to get help right away from a professional.

If you need help talking to your kids about this incident, click here.

For more mental health services, click here.