Another student suicide at Interboro High School raises concerns
Friday, March 19th, 2010
Police are treating the hanging death of an 18-year old Interboro High School student Dominic Marchesani Wednesday night as a suicide. Less than a month ago, two other students from the Delaware County school killed themselves by stepping in front of a train together. Experts say the two incidents could be related.
With three suicides at Interboro High School – along with a wave of suicides at Cornell University, parents and teachers are concerned about suicide clusters. A suicide in a person's community can increase suicide risk for people who are already troubled, says Temple University psychology professor Brian Daly.
Daly: Because these individuals tend to have a pre-existing mental illness and are probably in a place themselves of hopelessness and despair, it oftentimes can be the trigger that sets them to the impulsive action of committing suicide.
Daly says the vast majority of people who commit suicide suffer from depression. Temple University Social Work Professor Jonathan Singer says parents play a big role in preventing suicide among adolescents. He says they should start a conversation on the issue – maybe not by talking about death, but by talking about life:
Singer: What are the reasons for sticking around and living, what do you have going for you, what ways do you feel supported by your peers, your parents, what ways do you feel supported by your community, and it's really an amazing opportunity to gain an insight into a child's life.
Psychologist Michael DeStefano from the Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment agrees, but adds that it requires a lot of persistence :
DeStefano: Even when a teenager says "I don't care, I don't care anymore, I don't care what happens to me, there is another side to that statement. And the unspoken side to that statement is – if I don't care, I am certainly hoping that there is somebody else out there who does.
Experts warn that schools affected by suicides should address the issue in talks and counseling sessions, but should avoid big memorials, which could glorify suicide.