PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Threats of school shootings, suicide attempts, bullying and sexual harassment — these are all tips that have come in from Oregon students and parents in the past year.
KOIN 6 News talked with a local teacher who made a life saving call to Safe Oregon, the state-wide tip line launched by Oregon State Police three years ago. We are concealing his identity to protect the student involved.
“She said something that caught my attention,” said the teacher. “It was something along the lines of no one would care if I died.”
Terrifying words for a young high school teacher.
“I was just scared that she was going to do something,” they said. “What I told her specifically was ‘if you died, I would be devastated.'”
But suicide prevention training kicked in.
“I asked her, ‘have you thought about killing yourself?’ and she said, ‘yes.’ I said, ‘are you thinking about killing yourself now?’ and she said, ‘yes,'” said the teacher. “I said, ‘listen, promise me I will see you tomorrow, I’m going to get you the help you need but promise me I will see you in the morning, come and check in.'”
The teacher then made a call to Safe Oregon.
“I called them, they answered right away, I gave them the information they needed.”
The Safe Oregon call center contacted police who went to the student’s home to make sure she was safe. They contacted her and the family while getting her in contact with some support.
The next day, school counselors stepped in and connected the student with mental health resources outside of school. It’s all part of an intricate plan to make sure students have the support that they need.
“It’s all about keeping kids safe and healthy and alive,” said Salem-Keizer Public School Superintendent Christy Perry. “Especially around suicide prevention.”
Perry said the Safe Oregon tip line is a critical tool for student safety.
“It allows us to sleep at night because we know someone will wake us up if there is an emergency in the night,” she said.
Safe Oregon launched in 2017. Teachers, parents, students and staff can call, email, text or use an app to report suicidal concerns, school threats, bullying, sexual assault and more.
“We all need help sometimes,” said Oregon State Police Captain Tim Fox. “This is a way you can talk about a friend.”
In the past three years, Safe Oregon has received over 5,000 tips.
“Anything we can do to make it easier on kids nowadays,” said Captain Fox. “Safe Oregon is a way that they can take tips from anyone.”
The tips that come in have saved lives.
“I think she’s getting the help she needs,” said the teacher. “I hope.”