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Teacher’s suicide saddens Lincoln community

Group of residents looking to bring prevention tools and awareness to city
By: Carol Percy, Reporter Lincoln News Messenger
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Last week’s death of a young middle-school teacher has again put the spotlight on what some community leaders are calling a suicide epidemic in the Lincoln community.

Jared Gonsalves, described as “in his early 30s” committed suicide a week ago Tuesday.

Gonsalves, a Twelve Bridges Middle School math teacher and athletic director, left his job last month amid rumors that he had been forced to resign.

Twelve Bridges Middle school principal, Stacey Brown, said Friday that he had “no comment.”

“Jared Gonsalves was a teacher with the district for approximately five years and resigned last month,” Western Placer Unified School District supervisor, Scott Leaman, stated in an e-mail Friday. “We were saddened to hear he took his own life on Tuesday.”

Leaman would not comment this week on rumors involving Gonsalves’ resignation, stating, “I am going to stand by my earlier statement.”

Several students, teachers, parents and colleagues who asked to remain anonymous voiced confusion and profound sadness on hearing that the popular teacher and volleyball coach had ended his life.

“We’re going to miss him. Mr. Gonsalves was a well-respected math teacher who touched the lives of many,” said a message e-mailed Monday to The News Messenger and signed, “TBMS Math Department.”

Gonsalves’ death marks the fourth suicide in the Lincoln area over the past six weeks and the seventh in less than two years. In summer 2011, three young Lincoln men took their own lives, and this year on Jan. 19, 19-year-old Alexis Herrera committed suicide, the first of Lincoln’s four suicides in 2013.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in adults between the ages of 18 and 65.  In California, with a population of more than 37 million, about 10 percent of the population commits suicide. More than 60 percent of those who died by suicide suffer from major depression.

Dr. Jennica Jenkins, a Sierra College mental-health grant coordinator, said that suicide victims often have untreated psychological issues including anxiety, prolonged stress and hopelessness.

“They are not able to think clearly enough to see options or hope beyond their personal pain,” Jenkins said.

Responding to the need for suicide education and prevention, Western Placer Unified School Board President, Kris Wyatt, met with concerned residents Feb. 26 to form a community suicide-prevention group.

“We have a common goal of wanting to educate and bring awareness (about suicide) to our community,” Wyatt said.

At present, the group comprises representatives from police services, Placer County mental health and children’s care, as well as various community-minded leaders and volunteers. If anyone would like more information about the committee, contact Kris Wyatt at k_wyatt@wildblue.net.

In addition, Jenkins recommended the following general websites for information about suicide prevention: knowthesigns.com and suicideispreventable.org.