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The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

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October 26, 2023

“I’ll forever feel her yanking on my arm”

The Defensive Line spreading awareness, providing tools in Parent University
Aliza Abidi
Martha Thomas talks to parents of Coppell ISD to pay attention for the possible signs of suicidal thoughts with their children. On Wednesday, The Defensive Line’s Chris and Martha Thomas led a district Parent University meeting to spread awareness about suicide at Coppell ISD Vonita White Admistration Building.

The lights dim as 2014 Coppell High School graduate Solomon Thomas’s figure spreads across the screen. The next 10 minutes will provide further insight into the death of his sister, 2011 Coppell High School graduate Ella Thomas, in 2018.

On Wednesday evening, Chris and Martha Thomas, parents to Ella and Solomon, gathered citizens of Coppell for a Parent University meeting at the Vonita White Administration Building. Along with assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Dr. Angie Brooks and Pinkerton Elementary School physical education teacher Colleen Michaelis, they spoke about suicide awareness and provided with the tools for effective communication with their children.

“We have such high expectations within the community,” Dr. Brooks said. “Even the word mental health, to say those two words is scary for some people. That’s another reason why in my role and working together in the district we have mental health written as a part of our district improvement plan. We want to make sure that the supports are there.”

The Thomas’ went on to share their experience with Ella’s suicide. As questions kept coming, Mr. Thomas discussed the feelings that often lead to suicide.

“[People] feel worthless, they feel alone, they feel isolated, they feel like they’re not worthy,” Mr. Thomas said. “There’s always concerns and feelings that sometimes things happen that lead to it but a lot of times they’re trying to get rid of all the pain and that’s a key piece of it as well.”

Pinkerton Elementary School physical education teacher Colleen Michaelis talks about her experience with supporting students as they may feel suicidal. On Wednesday, The Defensive Line’s Chris and Martha Thomas led a district Parent University meeting to spread awareness about suicide at Coppell ISD Vonita White Admistration Building. (Aliza Abidi)

Mrs. Thomas shared coping strategies, including creating your own D-LINES. D-LINES help parents and educators learn how to initiate conversations around mental health with their children and students.

“Don’t ignore your gut,” Mrs. Thomas said. “That’s that feeling you get, that really innate feeling that something’s off. I feel like in American culture, we’re taught to push that down. If you feel like something is really off with your kid, you have to talk, you have to find out what’s going on.”

While starting conversations about mental health with your child can be difficult, it is an important step in preventing suicide.

Find a moment when your child seems more open to having a conversation, describe what you’ve noticed in a nonjudgmental way,” Mrs. Thomas said. “Saying ‘you’re too angry’ versus you seem angry,’ it’s a whole different vibe, isn’t it?”

Follow Nyah (@nyah_rama) and @CHSCampusNews on X.

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About the Contributors
Nyah Rama, CHS9 Editor
Nyah is a junior and the CHS9 editor for The Sidekick. Although she was inspired by Rory from Gilmore Girls at 9 years old, Nyah’s journey in the school newspaper and journalism started when she won Writer of the Week during a journalism summer camp. Outside of writing for The Sidekick, Nyah is also an editor for the magazine TaHB, which focuses on topics and events in the science and medical field. When not working on a story for The Sidekick, struggling through IB classes, or editing for TaHB magazine, Nyah enjoys critiquing reality TV with her friends over FaceTime, listening to female rap artists such as Cardi B, Saweetie and Latto, and keeping up with her football team, the New York Jets. As a proud New Jerseyan, born and raised for 5 years, Nyah attributes her opinionated personality to her Jersey origin. She loves everything about the American Northeast: people’s aggressive attitudes and aggression, and the busy city lifestyle. To discuss Patrick Mahomes’ football career, share opinions on reality TV characters, or discuss rap culture, you can contact Nyah by email at [email protected] or on Instagram (@nyah_rama).
Aliza Abidi, Editorial Page Editor
Aliza Abidi is a senior and the Editorial Page Editor for The Sidekick. In her free time, she likes to read a variety of fiction novels, lift weights, and watch Studio Ghibli movies. To Aliza, journalism is about bringing all sorts of different opinions and perspectives to light. Opinions and perspectives about the world’s various curiosities and disputes that are created by people with interesting stories underneath; experiences which shape an individual's values. To her, these viewpoints are worth sharing, vibrant and fresh to hear and learn about. Seeing her older brother being able to make an impact by bringing stories and viewpoints to light at The Sidekick inspired her to join, where she is now, helping to make an impact in her community as she helps coordinate the process of publishing works that fulfill her passions and goals. You can contact her at [email protected].

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