Community mourns the death of Orchard Knob Elementary student

Staff Photo by D. Patrick Harding / Work continues at the new Orchard Knob Elementary School along 3rd Ave. The new building is much larger than the original one which is only a few yards away.

Chattanooga residents are mourning the Tuesday night death of an Orchard Knob Elementary student.

School board member Tiffanie Robinson, of District 4, told the Hamilton County Commission on Wednesday morning that she "received a phone call [Tuesday night] that a fourth- grader in my district had committed suicide."

"All I could think about was this family that experienced the loss of this child. More importantly, I thought about what drove this child to feel like he needed to hang himself," Robinson said during public comments at the commission meeting Wednesday.

Hamilton County Schools spokesman Tim Hensley said the school district is concentrating on Orchard Knob's students and the affected families.

"The focus of the district is the family and friends who are hurting at this difficult time," Hensley said in a statement.

The district had extra counselors, social workers and administrators at the school Wednesday and they will remain for as many additional days as needed, he said.

"We will work with the community to see how we may be able to assist the family and the Orchard Knob community," Hensley added.

District employees confirmed the school was receiving an "outpouring of support from counselors and social workers."

The Hamilton County-Chattanooga Family Justice Center posted about the incident on Facebook and reminded community members that the center provides free counseling services.

"We stand in support of this young man's family and his school family and community during this time of loss and transition," the post reads. "Our school-based Intervention Specialists work in the schools every day providing a safe, trauma-informed supportive space for children and youth who are dealing with the effects of trauma."

A spokesperson for the Chattanooga Police Department confirmed there is an open investigation into the incident, but did not confirm the nature of the child's death.

WTVC-TV 9 reported Tuesday night that law enforcement did confirm that officers and emergency medical services personnel responded to the scene in Avondale last night.

For more information about counseling for individuals and families through the Family Justice Center, call 423-643-7609 or email

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOf

Contact Meghan Mangrum at or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.