Despite rumors, Rigby tragedies are separate incidents, officials say

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RIGBY — Rigby is reeling from two tragedies this week involving high school students.

Jefferson School District 251 officials say the first tragedy was a suicide.

Law enforcement and school officials are not commenting on the nature of the second tragedy, although it is confirmed that it involved a high school student who was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries.

On Wednesday evening, a social media firestorm erupted with rumors that the two tragedies were in someway connected to a suicide dare or game among students.

One post to the I Love Rigby Idaho Facebook Page that referred to a dare or “no balls” challenge soon received hundreds of comments and dozens of shares.

“I am a concerned mother that is feeling a bit scared to send her kids to school in fear that they are going to to be dared to do something stupid! We need to stand up and protect our children!” the poster wrote.

Several other followers to the page posted similar posts about their concerns and rumors about a dare challenge.

Page administrator Michelle Gordon removed the posts after several complaints.

“I had so many requests to remove the post from page followers, it was causing undue uproar,” Gordon told EastIdahoNews.com. “Then the family of the victims reached out. The rumors were putting them through more heartache.”

On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, EastIdahoNews.com received dozens of messages, emails and phone calls regarding the post.

EastIdahoNews.com also spoke with law enforcement and district officials about the rumors.

“These are two isolated tragedies,” Rigby Police Chief Sam Tower tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We have and will continue to investigate the rumors involving a dare. As of now, we have found nothing to confirm those rumors.”

District officials also found no evidence of the rumors. However, Rigby Police have shared the following post on their Facebook page as of 3 p.m. Thursday:

In response to the tragedies, counselors from throughout the region have been brought in.

“We have all of our counselors from the high and middle school helping. Counselors from other agencies were brought in as well,” Chad Martin, director of Secondary Education for Jefferson School District, tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We also have an increased law enforcement presence, and the Madison Cares crisis response team is here.”

Martin says the faculty were briefed Thursday morning on the additional counselor support. Teachers were asked to help identify students who might need help. Martin said the students are active in using the resources brought in.

District 251 Superintendent Lisa Sherick, Rigby Police Chief Sam Tower and Jefferson County Sheriff Steve Anderson said in a news release Thursday that they are working together to get those affected the help and support they need in dealing with the two recent tragedies in our community.

They are asking the public to respect the privacy of the families. Because of the sensitivity of these recent incidents, they said would not release further details. These incidents are still under investigation.

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article identified the second tragedy as an attempted suicide. That statement has been removed at the request of Jefferson School District 251. The nature of that tragedy has not been released.

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