PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — During its annual education conference, the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Southwestern Pennsylvania is reaching out to the Franklin Regional School District.
“NAMI is a family support organization and if anybody can extend compassion and understanding to those families, and students and teachers, it’s us,” said Christine Michaels, the organization’s executive director.
More than 20 students and a security guard were injured in the stabbing rampage at the Murrysville high school last Wednesday. The most seriously injured remains on a ventilator at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital.
A Franklin Regional sophomore, 16-year-old Alex Hribal, is accused in the incident. So far, finding an explanation has been difficult. He has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and is being held in a juvenile detention center.
“I’m an experienced mental health professional, and you can’t always tell,” said Michaels. “There’s no way to predict what happened the other day at the school.”
The conference, in Coraopolis, is devoted to young adults and the issues that come with mental illness.
Nicole Campbell, a mental health advocate, thinks students need somewhere to go for help.
“I myself have suffered in silence in the past because there was no form of education about how to handle stress, anxiety, or depression or other serious issues,” said Campbell.
Kevin Hines, the conference keynote speaker, tried to take his own life when he was 19-year-old by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. With a second chance at life, he now speaks about suicide prevention and mental health topics.
“We don’t know what that young man went through,” said Hines. “We don’t know what went on behind his closed doors, and I would just say on that note – because I’m a very forgiving person myself – I wish him the best and hope he gets the help he needs.”
Meanwhile, Michaels offers this advice as the community begins the healing process.
“Take advantage of those professionals coming in there because people… you just can’t put this behind you and act like nothing ever happened and go forward,” she said. “It has to be discussed and talked about.”