Parent Responds To Suicide Book at Middle School Library

By Alex Malm

A book that was checked out of the Londonderry Middle School was a point of discussion during the public comment portion of the May 10 School Board meeting.
Karen McEwen said that she was the one who brought the book titled “Suicide: opposing views.” to the attention of the school.
McEwen said that the assistant principal was addressed about it and said that it was appropriate because in eight grade students do a paper about controversial topics.
McEwen said that she doesn’t know anyone who would think that suicide is a contrevertial topic before graduate level college.
“I’m 44 and I can’t understand the other side of that,” said Mcewen.
Londonderry Middle School Principal William Van Bennekum responded to the question of how books get into the library. He explained that it is primarily handled by the media center staff.
“That’s really handled by our media center specialists and librarians. They would be more than happy to explain to you that process of how those books are screened because there’s a screening process to that,” said Van Bennekum.
Van Bennekum said that age appropriateness is an important part of that.
The School Board also heard from Holly Edmonds, the parent whose student came home with the book and who was visible distraught as she addressed the board.
“I am the mom that has the book,” said Edmonds.
She explained that she went to guidance, the principal, and teachers and they all knew that her son has been struggling with his mental health.
“They all know my son struggled with suicide, depression, anxiety, cutting for years,” said Edmonds.
She said that as a parent her job is to keep her children safe which includes not having prescription drugs or sharp things in their house.
Edmonds explained that she felt sending her son to school was a safe place for him until she found out that he checked out the book.
She said that it was recommended to him to read as a good book.
“You’re kidding me right,” said Edmonds.
Edmonds explained that her son said that he read 50 pages of the book and then came to her and said that he thought it was inappropriate.
“This shouldn’t be available to our kids,” said Edmonds.
Edmonds said that she is concerned that he read any of the book at all. She said that some of the things he read about was assisted suicide, what ages is typical for suicide and who is likely to committ suicide.
“I am so afraid that what he read in this book I’m gonna come home (and) that I’m not going to have my kid there because ideas that are in this book are now in his head,” said Edmonds.
Edmonds said that she isn’t planning on returning the book and said that she doesn’t want someone struggling with mental health issues to read the book. She said that she would pay for it.
She also said that she wants them to go through the library to examine if the books in the library are actually all appropriate for middle school students.
School Board Chair Amy Finamore apologized to Edmonds.
“Holly, I’d just like to say how sorry I am,” said Finamore.
Van Bennekum also apologized.
“Mrs. Edmonds I am sorry too,” said Van Bennekum. “We will do due diligence in that aspect.”

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