An Orange County school was in shock after a 13-year-old boy was found dead on school campus Tuesday, prompting officials to close the middle school and a nearby elementary school for the day.
Orange County Sheriff's deputies confirmed the teen killed himself. He was found by a custodian at 6:30 a.m. on campus at Don Juan Avila Middle School, located at 26278 Wood Canyon Drive.
Don Juan Avila Elementary school was also closed, and parents were asked to pick up their children.
"No parent should ever have to bury their kid," said parent Ian Ellison.
Within hours after learning of the death, dozens of students and parents gathered at Grand Park. They said they felt the need to be together and to make sure this doesn't happen again.
The hugs and tears rose to the surface, with teachers, parents and students pausing to reflect on the unexpected death. Officials say the 13-year was reported missing early Tuesday morning. By daybreak he was discovered to be dead.
Student Jocelyn Ellison said the topic of getting help might be hard to broach with parents.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
"We don't like talking to stuff about that to our parents. It's embarrassing so we tell our friends instead," she said.
The Capistrano Unified School District actually hired 30 additional counselors three years ago, to combat what they saw as a rise in mental illness. Counselors are now on every elementary school campus.
Those counselors say parents should look for signs of depression, changes in behavior and even a lack of appetite that lasts for weeks. These are all indicators a child needs help.
"Anytime you can share life and pains and sorrows that you go through helps children deal with what they're feeling so they dont feel so alone," said parent Traci August.
Students say their prayers are for the family, its loss and an entire campus of elementary and middle school age classmates who must now discuss a subject they never expected to discuss.
"I hope everyone come together just saying hi to someone will make some day," student Makenna August said.
The school will have an entire student resource center open and available at Don Juan Avila campuses Wednesday.
If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting 'Home' to 741741.