[Editor’s note: This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)]
Civil rights attorney and former schoolteacher Leo Terrell joined “The Story” on Friday and offered a heartfelt, tearful reaction to a panel of parents who discussed losing their children to suicide over the past year.
Terrell, who taught history and economics in Los Angeles, gripped a tissue while telling host Martha MacCallum how difficult it was for him to watch the panel of parents talk about their children’s lives. He added that the “politics and all of the games” played by teachers unions played a part in the underlying mental health crisis.
“The kids lost the ability to interact with teachers [during the pandemic],” Terrell said. “Teachers and schools give kids — these kids lost the chance to communicate with their schoolteachers, who provide an alternative in that transitional period: [ages] 12 to 17.
“Teachers can be a great resource,” he added. “Teachers can provide counseling that was denied to these kids. They lost the opportunity.”
Terrell emphasized that neither he nor the parents are soley blaming the coronavirus pandemic for the deaths of the teens.
“But, it was a factor,” Terrell said, fighting back tears.
“These kids lost that opportunity due to politics and all of the games [between] the schools and the unions.”
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“Teachers provide an alternative for kids to express their concerns and sorrow. That was taken away. That’s what is so painful,” he said. “It was hard to watch that program.”
“Leo, thank you,” MacCallum responded. “Your tears speak for so many of us.”