Kids aren’t talking about soccer or English class in the halls of JHS 189 in Flushing.
They’re talking about killing themselves.
Sixty students have expressed suicidal thoughts in the past year, Principal Magdalen Radovich told a recent gathering of nearly two dozen elected officials and community leaders. The Department of Education claimed Radovich “misquoted” the figure but refused to give The Post any data.
None of the children made good on their threats, and parents were called in each case. But shocked local lawmakers are calling it a crisis.
“If 60 kids on the Upper East Side talked about suicide, Mayor de Blasio would be there interjecting himself,” Assemblyman Ron Kim fumed of Hizzoner, whose wife, Chirlane McCray, has made mental health her signature cause.
“Sixty … is a staggering number, but even one is too many,” said City Councilman Peter Koo, who attended the Feb. 7 legislative breakfast at the school along with Kim and Flushing Chamber of Commerce’s John Choe.
Just the mention of the 60 cases — about 8% of Daniel Carter Beard School’s roughly 740 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders — sucked the oxygen out of the room, the men said.
The movers and shakers had even been scheduled to tour the school but ran out of time because they peppered the principal with so many questions about the suicide talk.
“It is shocking to me that central DOE has not yet communicated this data with us,” Kim said. “How could DOE have dropped the ball in addressing these issues?”Radovich brought up the figure after she asked for the group’s buy-in for a mental health and wellness center on campus.
“She was trying to make the point that she had never seen anything like this in her years of being an educator,” Kim said.
Kim also wants a deeper discussion of what is behind the scary talk. He and Choe, the Chamber’s executive director, contend the crisis doesn’t stem from peer pressure or group think, but from Flushing’s lack of affordable housing and skyrocketing commercial rents.