Dear Annie: Last week, our son came home from high school and told us that a boy at his school had killed himself. The boy had been a friend of his since the fifth grade.
The school had a moment of silence over the public address system, but never mentioned the boy's name. Most of the details about the suicide are nonexistent, although there are a few things mentioned on a website asking for help paying for funeral costs. Students who didn't know the suicide victim are guessing it was caused by bullying. Our son says that's not true. Some students are even saying the fund requests are a scam.
We haven't heard anything about whether the school is offering grief counseling. We've talked to our son about the tragedy and are trying our best to help him. Because the students have no information, they are making wild guesses and placing uninformed posts on social media. My question is why is this tragedy so secret? Should the school do more? — Sad Mom
Dear Sad: Sometimes, the school is ill-equipped to deal with such tragedies and does nothing, which tends to create a whirlwind of misinformation. Also, the administration may fear that mentioning the details would create copycat suicides. But the details do not need airing. The acknowledgement of mourning, however, is important.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org) offers a Toolkit for Schools, and you should mention this to the administration. The foundation is also an excellent resource for anyone dealing with suicide, and you will find information there that will help you talk to your son about his friend.
Dear Annie: I would like to thank "B" for bringing attention to the telephone scammers who have been plaguing America.
I also would like to bring to your readers' attention to a scam perpetrated by people claiming to be from the IRS. I have received three calls from these people. The "official" recorded message is totally bogus. The caller threatened me with arrest for ignoring the calls. They instructed me to call a 202 area code, but it's a private Washington, D.C., number, not the IRS. I have worked for a federal agency and know how things work. Please be aware of the following:
1. The IRS does not initiate contact by telephone. They use certified mail.
2. Legitimate government agencies have an 800 number.
3. The IRS will not arrest anyone over the phone. If an arrest is required, it will be after lengthy legal processes have been exhausted. You'll know about it. Police agencies need a bona fide warrant to arrest people.
4. If you receive such a call, report it to the IRS at [email protected] Also notify your local police. — Knows Better
Dear Knows: Thank you for your expert advice. Calls pretending to be from the IRS can be particularly frightening for people who are so eager to cooperate that they give out personal financial information over the phone. Please, folks, be careful.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.