Community Mourns the Loss of Sequoia Freshman to Suicide

WHS responds to the recent Sequoia suicide and talks about how to prevent tragedy in our school.

Isabella Williams, Online Editor

On September 26, another tragic high school suicide occurred in the Silicon Valley area. Holly Spalletta, a 14-year-old freshman at Sequoia High School, was struck by Caltrain in Redwood City after deciding to take her own life.

The loss of high school students to suicide has become all too ordinary. Although Woodside High School hasn’t experienced a student suicide since 1996, suicide rates at other Silicon Valley high schools have spiked in 2017.

A day after the tragedy, Sequoia Union High School District superintendent Mary Streshly released the following email to district staff members and parents. Streshly said, “The loss of life of a student is both painful and traumatic due to the fact that it does not fit into the natural order of life, as we never expect our children to pass before we do. Yet, through this pain, we must come together to support each other, and, to support the family that just lost their child as their life has been forever changed.”

As the community directs their focus to preventing future tragedy, it is important to inform students in crisis of their resources. Guidance counselors are a great resource for students in need and can always offer support on campus.

“A good resource at Woodside is F-14, a drop-in counseling office that is always open during school, with couches and a quiet environment to relax if necessary. There are counselors there that are available to talk if a student is struggling, and can even schedule regular appointments for help,” says Kelly Younger, a guidance counselor at WHS.

There are also changes the community can make to better support students in trauma.

“Knowing what’s going on with our friends and being friendly to strangers is important. Also, de-stigmatizing mental health, which means being open and sharing with people when you’re having a hard time and offering support to those who need it,” added Younger.

WHS students can also get help in the Health Office from either Heidi Flaig or Kristen Patane at all times during the school day. They can offer helpful resources.

“Students are always welcome to come to the health office to be connected to local resources for help,” says Kristen Patane, a school health aid.

Although Spalletta’s close friends and families were not available for comment, freshman Aya Shmeltzer, a friend of Holly’s from middle school, spoke to the Woodside World about the prevention of tragedies like this one.

“I thinks it’s vital that we offer struggling students support at school because they may not have access to [help] in other places. Also, a lot of people with depression prefer not to talk to people face to face, and a solution to this is an anonymous site for them to talk to counselors and ambassadors. It’s important to help them as much as we can without making them uncomfortable,” says Shmeltzer.

According to her support campaign page co-created by her mother, Holly Spalletta was, “sweet, nurturing, brilliant, and trustworthy. She was a great friend with the biggest heart, and the world was such a brighter place with Holly in it.”

Help is available off campus, as well. Students looking for help can always call the Santa Clara County Suicide and Crisis Hotline, available 24/7, at 855-278-4204, or the California Youth Crisis Line at 800-843-5200. You can also reach a Crisis Text Line volunteer counselor, a free and confidential service, by texting the word, “BAY,” to 741741. Additional resources are available at