During my research about suicide among the gifted, I came across the work of Dr. Tracy Cross, Executive Director of the Center for Gifted Education in the School of Education at William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. Dr. Cross has been conducting research on suicide among the gifted for about 30 years.
Dr. Cross is the world’s expert on suicide among GT kids and he is the lead researcher conducting a comprehensive academic study about Patrick and other GT suicide completers. He is also the past-president of the National Association for Gifted Children, serving as president from 2013-2015. It will be a long process, but we will have five Ph.D.s looking at the evidence of Patrick’s life and death. Here’s more about Dr. Cross and the Center for Gifted Education https://education.wm.edu/centers/cfge/about/director/index.php
I am so excited that he accepted my offer to examine Patrick as part of his research. I was thrilled to meet Dr. Cross in July, 2016 while attending the Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG) conference in Williamsburg. He is a genuine and delightful man who had dedicated much of his professional career to this important topic.
The team has already begun reviewing medical records and school records. In 2016 Dr. Cross' graduate assistant and doctoral candidate, Natalie Dudnytska, conducted interviews with several of Patrick's close friends, Brendan and I. The goal of Dr. Cross’ 30 years of research on this topic is to better understand suicide among the gifted population so that we can develop more effective intervention strategies. His team is also working on training for teachers and staff. I hope to help spread the word about their work and their findings; perhaps we can even test their materials here in Jeffco.
In life, Patrick was always teaching me and often teaching his teachers. He just didn’t process the world the way most kids do. It is my hope that in death, Patrick’s story will add to our understanding of GT students and suicide in a significant way.