Deerfield Beach

Family, Friends Say More Help Needed After Deerfield Beach Students’ Deaths

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Two months after Deerfield Beach High School football star Bryce Gowdy took his life by stepping in front of a train, his classmate and friend, Alexis Marion, did the same.

Her mother said it was due, in part, to the anguish she suffered from after Bryce’s death.

It’s an anguish that continues to afflict the Deerfield Beach community.

“We need help,” said Gowdy’s friend, Clefton Israel. “We might not say it, but ultimately, we kids need help.”

Israel said he hasn’t found proper clinical help since his friend’s death. He said therapists he has seen have not been as responsive or warm as he’d like, and it’s made it tough to find the help he needs.

“I don’t feel like we’re being understood or heard,” Israel said.

Gowdy’s mother, Shibbon Winelle, said she has heard of other classmates who have spoken with school counselors in uncomfortable conditions. In one instance, she described a female friend of Gowdy’s who was ushered into a dark classroom to speak with a counselor as she sat in a broken desk.

“I think the key thing that needs to happen right now is these kids need therapy,” Winelle said. ”They need it in a way where they can open up, and express, and feel comfortable.”

In a statement, Broward County Public Schools said it provides and will provide mental health services to students and staff.

"District-based crisis teams (Family Therapists, School Social Workers, School Psychologists, Employee Assistance Program Counselors, School Counselors, Suicide Prevention Specialists) have responded immediately to the needs of the school," the statement said in part.

The district added that full-time mental health clinicians will remain at the school all year and that it had partnered with the city and behavioral health partners to provide out-of-school mental health support.

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