By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – Death can be difficult for anyone to deal with, but it can be exceptionally hard for students when it happens to one of their peers.
The Safford Unified School District Crisis Response Team was deployed at the Safford High School on Monday after administrators learned of the death of a student. Nico Cisneros, a male junior at the school, reportedly was found deceased Monday morning.
According to a press release from the Safford Police Department, officers were dispatched at 7 a.m. to a residence in the 1300 block of S. 8th Avenue regarding a reported suicide. The release stated Cisneros’ father found him deceased and called authorities. His death is being investigated by the Safford Police Department.
The crisis team, which is made up of volunteers from throughout the school district and community, was created in 1997 to assess the needs of the students and to “help enable individuals and the school community to make a healthy adjustment and to return to normal functioning as soon as possible,” according to the district’s website. Members are trained to serve their positions, and the team has also been called out to other area school districts when the need arose.
Safford Principal Rich DeRidder told Gila Valley Central that the crisis team performed admirably.
“We’re dealing with it and the crisis team has taken the lead role,” DeRidder said. “It’s helping us deal with the loss of a student . . . We’re focused on dealing with it and moving forward.”
Crisis team member Tad Jacobson told Gila Valley Central that the team informed the students of the situation and performed their duty.
“At this point, we told the students that the student had passed away this morning at his home and that’s all we know,” Jacobson said.
He added that the team wanted to get the facts out to the school to help quell rumor and conjecture over Cisneros’ death.
“For the family’s sake, it’s not right to jump to any conclusions,” Jacobson said.
DeRidder said the crisis team met with both students and teachers at the school.
“They came in and helped support our kids,” DeRidder said. “It helps our teachers as well . . . Everybody is struggling with it. It’s not just the friends or anything. It brings up things from kids’ pasts and things they just need to talk about, so that’s what they’re here for.”
DeRidder also applauded the high school’s counselors for their exemplary work during the difficult time.
“Everybody has been on alert today, and it’s worked out very well for us; it’s helped us out a great deal,” DeRidder said. “I do know that it has been very helpful . . . It’s a great team.”
Students and teachers voluntarily speak to the crisis team members or can be given a recommendation to do so if a teacher notices someone visibly upset in the classroom.
Gila Valley Central will update this article when more information is available.