News & Features

Mental Health Professionals, Community Supporting School After Death of Counselor

Crisis team assists Glacier High School in wake of reported death by suicide of Jerad Avery

A quick-response crisis team of mental health professionals and school counselors has been assisting the Kalispell Public Schools district following the reported death by suicide of Glacier High School guidance counselor Jerad Avery on Nov. 18.

In a Nov. 19 statement, Superintendent of Schools Mark Flatau said the Flathead Valley Quick Response Team, consisting of “school counselors, therapists, and mental health professionals, responded in great numbers today in support of our school family.”

“We are grateful for this wonderful and heartfelt response,” Flatau wrote to staff and families. “We will continue to provide this needed support for as long as needed.”

Flatau said “our hearts are broken over” Avery’s death, and that Avery was remembered “for the many positive contributions he made to our kids and school district.”

“Please continue to remember our students and staff as we work through this very difficult time,” Flatau said.  “With everyone’s continued support we will persevere and get through it. Thank you to the many parents and community members who have supported us today through many acts of kindness by providing food, beverages, cards and flowers.”

Glacier High School administrators said in a statement that the school “implemented a crisis response plan to help the students and staff respond to this unfortunate death,” and in conjunction with the crisis team “continues to provide professionally staffed support stations available to all students and staff.”

“In addition, students continue to meet with staff from our counseling and social work departments,” administrators wrote.

According to the Kalispell Police Department, law enforcement responded at approximately 2 p.m. on Nov. 18 to a reported male outside the chain link fence on the Three Mile Drive overpass above the U.S. Highway 93 bypass. A short time later, dispatch received a report that a man had been struck by a car at that same location on the bypass.

Kalispell police officers, the Kalispell Fire Department and West Valley Fire all responded to the scene. The 50-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. No foul play is suspected. The Kalispell Police Department is conducting an ongoing investigation with the assistance of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and the Montana Highway Patrol.

On Nov. 18, Flatau said in an initial letter to staff and families that he was “deeply saddened to report that we were informed this afternoon by law enforcement that a staff member at Glacier High School, Jerad Avery, took his life this afternoon.” Flatau noted that additional support staff from other schools and the community would be onsite for the following day of school.

“Please keep our school community in your thoughts and prayers as we deal with this tragedy,” Flatau wrote.

A memorial service will be held for Avery at 3 p.m. on Nov. 24 at the Glacier High School gymnasium, followed by a mass of Christian burial at 11 a.m. on Nov. 25 at Risen Christ Catholic Church. The Nov. 24 service at Glacier is open to the public and “Wolfpack” attire is encouraged.

Avery is survived by his wife Leila, daughter Teigan and son Tyler.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing distress or a crisis, call the free Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, which is available 24/7. Or text MT to 741-741 for a free 24/7 text line.

Go to www.dphhs.mt.gov/suicideprevention/suicideresources for more information on available resources. The Kalispell school district also has a crisis and suicide help resource page at www.sd5.k12.mt.us/Content2/crisis-help.

A post on Glacier High School’s Facebook page with the message “We Are a Wolfpack Family” has received an outpouring of support from the community. The post includes a link to an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention document called “Talking to Children About Suicide.”