OAKLEY -- Freedom High School officials tried to comfort students Tuesday in the wake of a student's apparent suicide.
A 15-year-old sophomore was struck and killed by a freight train Monday morning just west of East Cypress Avenue.
The train's engineer said that the victim waited for the train to approach and stepped in front of it, said Lena Kent, spokeswoman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, which owns that stretch of track.
The Times is not identifying the boy out of respect for his family's privacy.
Principal Erik Faulkner said that he immediately notified the Liberty school district superintendent and e-mailed his entire staff after the police officer assigned to the school contacted him about the death Monday. School was not in session Monday because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Freedom High's psychologist and a guidance counselor planned to make a brief visit to each of the teen's eight classes Tuesday and Wednesday to answer students' questions and to emphasize that adults are on hand for them to talk to if they need a sympathetic ear.
"This may trigger another emotional event -- (the loss) of a family member or a friend that may bring up some stress," said Faulkner, noting that he received some calls from parents wanting to know if there would be counseling for students.
The school also set up a room in the administration building where its three other guidance counselors, together with psychologists from Heritage and Liberty high schools, were available on a drop-in basis while classes are in session.
During lunch, some of them mingled with students, looking for those who appeared upset, Faulkner said.
Outside agencies also were quick to extend a hand.
Oakley Union Elementary School District sent two of its guidance counselors to the school, and four individuals trained in crisis intervention were there courtesy of a coalition of East Contra Costa school districts that have outside professionals regularly visit campuses to meet teens' social and emotional needs.
Similar offers came from the principal of O'Hara Park Middle School, where the boy had been a student, and Oakley's police chief, who extended the services of a law enforcement chaplain.
Freedom High also might have someone from the Contra Costa Crisis Center, a Walnut Creek nonprofit group, give an presentation for parents on an upcoming evening on how to recognize the warning signs that a young person is considering suicide, Faulkner said.
He said counselors and assistant principals who knew the teen have indicated that he didn't have a large circle of friends.
"He mostly kept to himself and a small group of kids," Faulkner said.
Although school personnel were helping him with some problems, "there was no indicators for suicide," Faulkner said.
This is the second time in three years a Freedom High student has been killed by a train. In March 2008, a 15-year-old was hit and killed as he walked on the tracks near Vintage Parkway and Main Street. That case was not thought to be suicide.
Staff writer Robert Salonga contributed to this story.
Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141.