Grief counselors were being sent to schools throughout an Orange County school district Tuesday, a day after a teacher apparently committed suicide in a classroom and her body was found by students and faculty.
On Tuesday, the district sent members of its crisis response team to El Dorado High School, where the body of photography teacher Jillian Jacobson, 31, was found hanging from the ceiling inside her classroom. The district also provided on its website a guide on how adults could speak with adolescents about death.
“Words could never express our true sorrow regarding this loss," Doug Domene, the Placentia-Yorba Linda schools superintendent, said in a statement.
"While we may never make sense of nor understand why this occurred, we do know that turning to each other during this time for support is essential,” he said. “In addition, we have a responsibility to be vigilant during this time to reach out to those who are in need.”
Officials said two students went to Jacobson’s classroom Monday but found the door locked. The students asked another teacher to let them into the classroom, where they found Jacobson hanging. Together, the students and Jacobson's fellow teacher lowered her body to the floor, authorities said.
Frank Leon, a 16-year-old student at El Dorado, said he saw students lined up outside Jacobson's classroom as he headed to his own class.
Leon said his teacher left to unlock Jacobson's classroom and, while he was sitting in class, he could hear the screams that followed the opening of the door.
Leon said he could hear his teacher screaming, "Oh my God, oh my God!"
Paul Bonello, who arrived to pick up his daughter from school Monday, said the campus had had its share of sorrow in the last year. A 16-year-old junior was killed a year ago when he was hit by a vehicle while skateboarding.
"I know the school's going through a lot of sorrow and loss."
In memory of Jacobson, students and parents held a candlelight vigil outside the school Monday night. Dozens of candles and notes remained there at the start of school Tuesday.
According to the Cal State Fullerton website, Jacobson was also a teacher at the school’s art summer camp for kids. She taught ceramics, and black-and-white and digital photography.
Jacobson's bio on the university website said her goal every summer was “to give campers an experience they will always remember, and to send them home with artwork they will be proud of for years to come.”
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