High School Principal’s Letter to Parents: We’re Pressuring Our Kids to Death

Teen suicide has been on the rise in recent years and sadly, TWEEN suicide (children ages 10-14) has doubled since 2009. For much of this, social media has been blamed: specifically since rates have risen so sharply (doubling in the 10-14 age group) since the advent of the smart phone. Cyber bullying and the pressure to have a picture-perfect life for social media has led many young people to have mental health problems that lead to teen suicide. But after a high school sophomore from Corona Del Mar High School in California took his life recently, a principal from a neighboring high school, Newport Harbor High, felt the need to speak out to the parents of his students, in a desperate plea to save lives.

Life’s pressures can contribute to teen suicide

In the Coronal Del Mar teen suicide, Newport Harbor principal Dr. Sean Boulton says in a Facebook post, social media and cyber bullying weren’t the main issues. The deceased child, he says, left suicide notes “which made mention of the pressures of school and growing up in Newport-Mesa.”

The Facebook post, which Dr. Boulton wrote as a letter to parents, says basically that these days, in some cases, we are pressuring our kids to death and it is leading to teen suicide. I find that his insight is startling yet rings completely true, and I think ALL parents need to take note. He says:

…there remains valid, heartfelt concern for this tragic incident, specifically from notes that the deceased student left, notes which made mention of the pressures of school and growing up in Newport-Mesa. A lot to ponder, and many conversations and changes ahead but how did we get here? 

Our teachers and District have simply created and maintained a system that our community/country has demanded from us over the past 20 years since college admissions mania went into hyper drive, since vocational training programs were dismantled, and since earning “A’s” in AP classes became the norm.

Our teachers feel the pressure, administration and counseling feel the pressure, and now parents/students are really feeling the pressures.

When we grew up nobody asked us what our GPA was, and it was “cool” to work on the roof of a house. This competitive culture has significantly impacted our young adults. We endlessly discuss test scores, National Merit Scholarships, reading scores, AP scholars, comparisons to other school Districts and this is when we start losing our collective souls–and our children. 

I’ll interrupt Boulton’s comments so you don’t miss this line: “This is when we start losing our collective souls–and our children.”


Jenny Rapson
Jenny is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor.

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