As the fourth week of school is about to begin, I hope you have all settled in well, and your classes are running smoothly. Bulldog fall sports are in full swing at both DHS and DMS, meaning you are attending various gyms, football and softball fields, golf courses, cross country meets, and everywhere in between to cheer on your fellow student-athletes. Go, Big Blue! While fun times and great memories are being made, it is also important to pay attention not only to your physical surroundings but to what you hear in conversations and see on social media that could cause harm to you or others and report it to your parents, school personnel or authorities immediately.
With the rise of school shootings, it is important for each one of you to think about your friends and acquaintances. If you have that feeling that "things just did not seem right," don't just let it go. For example, have you ever watched the news after a school shooting and the assailant's teachers, peers, or friends made comments such as, "We saw that one coming," or "I thought they were joking," and "I felt something was off but did not say anything?" Imagine if those who had that "gut feeling" had spoken up, that school shooting tragedy could have been prevented, and the lives of innocent children and teachers would not have been taken.
If you have these "gut feelings" that something is wrong with someone in your class, school, or just a friend, we depend on you, DeSoto County Students, to report that information. For example, suppose you play in video game chat rooms, and someone (whether you know them personally or they live in another state or country) is making remarks about killing people, mass shootings, school shootings, or anything that you feel is inappropriate. In that case, YOU are the first line of defense. We need you to speak up and tell someone, such as a teacher, parent, pastor, or Law Enforcement Officer. They are there to keep you safe, but anything could happen if you don't share your fears.
I want to take this moment to stress to everyone in our community that if you see or hear someone make any kind of threat to a school, its students, or staff, please speak up! If you hear or see threats of any kind in general, please contact us immediately. Not only do we want to prevent any tragedies in our county, we also want to seek help for those who feel this is their only way to cope.
In closing, there are many outlets to assist those in distress. Each school in our county has counselors, our churches have pastors, and there are many professional outlets such as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which is available 24/7.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be reached by simply texting 988 or dialing 988 on a cell phone and also has a "chat" window available. The nationally recognized number 800-273-8255 is still available as well. By using any one of these contact methods, the user will be connected to a trained crisis counselor who renders support for suicidal, mental health, and/or substance use crises.
Your safety and the safety of everyone in our community is a top priority to me and those serving you at the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office. If you see something, say something.
Be Safe, Be Kind, and God Bless You,
Sheriff Jim Potter