A teacher hanged herself in her classroom just before school was due to start, it has emerged.
The community of El Dorado High School in Placentia, California, is mourning the death of popular photography teacher Jillian Jacobson who took her life on Monday morning (2 March).
Held in great esteem and deemed an inspiration to many, the 31-year-old was found by students as they were about to start class.
Paramedics attended and performed CPR as she was suffering from cardiac arrest but they could not revive her. She was later pronounced dead at the scene.
"I was in the class next door when I saw her students run out of the room with pale faces. Then teachers were running, then firefighters," one student named as Holly told the Orange County Register.
A candlelit vigil was held in her memory last night and bereavement counsellors have been made available to students on campus.
One tribute read: "We love you Mrs Jacobson. You'll never be forgotten."
There was no indication as to what could have led to her committing suicide. No note has been found. Jacobson, who was married and lived with her 34-year-old husband, always reportedly urged pupils to not to resort to suicide. Her father had previously killed himself.
A statement from the school superintendent Doug Domene read: "Monday our district and, specifically, El Dorado High School, experienced an extremely tragic event. One of our teachers, Jillian Jacobson, took her own life in her classroom prior to the start of school.
"El Dorado staff contacted my office, and district and site representatives came together to provide additional support for the staff and students at El Dorado. We are prepared to do the same tomorrow and throughout the week.
"Words could never express our true sorrow regarding this loss. While we may never make sense of nor understand why this occurred, we do know that turning to each other during this time for support is essential.
"As superintendent, I am asking that you keep the EDHS family and our entire district community in your thoughts and prayers."
The Samaritans provides a free support service for those who need to talk to someone. They can be contacted through their website or on 08457 90 90 90, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call charges apply.