SPANISH FORK — Students at Spanish Fork High School are preparing for prom this week.
But rather than a celebratory atmosphere, a more somber feeling permeated the school on Monday and Tuesday.
"You can just tell, there's a more subdued tone than normal," said Nebo School District spokeswoman Lana Hiskey.
Monday morning, before local media began reporting on the exceptionally tragic incident that resulted in a 16-year-old girl dead and her 18-year-old friend in custody for investigation of murder for essentially engaging in assisted suicide, the news was first delivered to students by their teachers.
Tyerell Przybycien, 18, was arrested Saturday for investigation of murder and reckless endangerment. Police say Przybycien told investigators he had an "interest in watching someone die" and his female friend, whose name has not been released, was suicidal.
Both were students at Spanish Fork High, although Przybycien hadn't attended since March.
Przybycien did not encourage the girl to kill herself, but did not discourage her either, according to the Utah County Sheriff's Office. The two bought a rope and industrial strength air duster together, went to the Maple Lake area in Payson, and the girl hung herself from a tree as Przybycien recorded the event on his cellphone, police say. After putting the rope around her neck, the girl huffed the air cleaner, passed out and fell off the rock that she was standing on, according to investigators.
The boy is seen during the approximately 10 minute video checking the girl's pulse and talking to her every once in a while to see if she has died, according to the sheriff's office. But he did not make an attempt to stop her, police say.
Hiskey said the district's counselors, as well as extra help, was brought to the school Monday to assist any student or faculty member who was struggling with the incident.
Those struggling the most have met privately with counselors, she said. But while the mood at the high school was subdued, she said no one was talking openly about the death in the hallways as most of the school's 1,100 students were trying to make the day as normal as possible. Hiskey said the students were told another student had passed away, but she did not know how many knew the details of the incident.
Very little information about the girl had been released as of Tuesday. The Utah County Sheriff's Office said Monday that she had struggled with mental health issues in the past.
Przybycien was a senior and had finished all his required classes to graduate in March. He was recently awarded a scholarship for the automotive program by Mountainland Applied Technology College, and had not been going to the high school since March, she said.
If parents also need help, or if parents are concerned about their child's behavior, Hiskey said counselors are also available for them.
The Utah Department of Health says suicide prevention help can be found at utahsuicideprevention.org/suicide-prevention-basics, and the national crisis hotline is 1-800-784-2433.
- Utah County Crisis Line: 801-226-4433
- Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
- Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
- Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386