Prince William Co. school officials reach out to community after recent student deaths

- School leaders in Prince William County are reaching out to students and parents after the deaths of four students in a three-day span. Three of the deaths have been ruled suicides while two others are still under investigation.

On Monday, the superintendent for Prince William County Public Schools sent out an automated phone message out to all parents following these tragic deaths.

“Three of these are separate cases and police have not yet provided full details of what happened,” said superintendent Dr. Steven Walts in the recorded message. “But they join us in asking that you speak with your children.”

The sad news began on Saturday when the bodies of two 17-year-old students, Indya Davis and Lyle Ferringer, were found in a minivan in Woodbridge. So far, Davis’ death has been ruled a suicide.

Also on Saturday, there was a separate suspected suicide of a 17-year-old Osbourn Park High School student at his home.

On Monday, 15-year-old Christopher Owens was found dead after friends and neighbors searched for him over the weekend. On Wednesday morning, the Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be a gunshot injury. The manner of his death was ruled a suicide. 

“This is very devastating for our school system and for our entire community,” said Carolyn Custard, director of student services for Prince William County Public Schools.

She said special response teams have been dispatched to schools where the students attended class.

“It’s composed of professional school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists and school nurses,” said Custard.

Suicide isn't something school officials or the media typically spotlights. But on the message to parents, the superintendent did want parents to know the warning signs.

“Help is available for anyone who could possibly be hurting enough to consider harming themselves,” said Walts in the phone message to parents.

School officials said the special response teams will stay at those schools as long as students need them.

It is important to note these cases are unrelated, but school officials said they wanted to speak to parents and let them know there is help out there.

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