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Report: High Schools Struggling with Rise in Teen Suicide

Commack HIgh School at center of the issue as school officials confirm four teen suicides in the past five years.

 

Commack High School is one of many districts across Long Island struggling to come to grips and find a solution for a rising trend of local teen suicides. 

Long Island Press reports that recent data from New York State Department of Health shows the rate of suicide for teens ages 15 to 19 on Long Island in 2010 is more than double what it was each of the previous three years. 

Furthermore, a spokesman for the agency told the Press that five teens from Nassau, 11 from Suffolk took their own lives in 2011 - up from two and five, respectively, a year earlier. 

is at the center of the issue of the alarming rise in teen suicides, as school officials confirmed that four Commack students have committed suicide in the past five years, according to Long Island Press. 

The paper spoke with a recent Commack High School graduate, whose name was changed for the article, who said she was bullied starting on the first day of ninth grade. It got to a point the bullying began affecting her grade, caused her to want to leave school and even lead her to to attempt suicide, according to the Press. 

Two Commack High School alumni Victoria Modica and Nicole Blanco, who noticed the troubling rise in suicide in Commack School District, started a petition on Change.org requesting the district to bring more suicide prevention programs into the high school. 

The petition reads: 

In the past 5 years, 17 students from Commack High School have passed away and a number of these deaths have been students that have chosen to take their own lives. Its time to make a change!

If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.

Pass this around to anyone you know.

BE THE CHANGE!

The petition received 2,852 signatures before it the deadline to sign it passed. It also alleges that 17 Commack High School students committed suicide in the past five years, more than three times the number reported by school officials.

Patch reported in March thatand stating counselors, psychologist and social workers were available. 

In addition, James made an announcement the district would be taking a four-prong course of action to focus on the prevention of destructive behaviors, rug and alcohol use/abuse and suicide prevention. 

The plan called for: 

  • Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services Amy Ryan will lead a committee that will recommend professional organizations who can work with district staff to develop skills necessary to help students deal with emotional issues.
  • The second component will be a committee of staff and community residents to review the district's current protocols, practices and procedures lead by the high school and middle school principals. 
  • A third committee will review the district's measures designed to deter students from engaging in aggressive and inappropriate behavior. 
  • Lastly, James has said Commack Coalition of Caring will be involved in each of the above three groups and double its efforts to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. 

Long Island Press suggested that Commack might be able to gather some insight and learn from other Long Island School district who have grappled with the issue, including Comsewogue. 

Click here to read Long Island Press's full article on rising teen suicide in Long Island's high schools. 

Sally August 16, 2012 at 10:46 PM
It is just not long island public schools. My daughter was taken out of a long island catholic school because of a parent who did not like her and made it very difficult for her. The school said they could do nothing about parents! All schools need to step up and protect our children.
GLENN August 17, 2012 at 01:36 AM
This is terrible, we need to look at many factors, from drugs to diet and vaccines. Why all the bi polar and depression? Parents need to open there eyes and pay attention to there children. . Sally, that parent who did that to your daughter should have been arrested, enough with these out of control parents! I hope she has recovered from her bad experience.
Re August 17, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Feb. 23, 2012 – The New York City Health Department announced today that the city’s overall suicide death rate is just over half the national rate (6 deaths per 100,000 in NYC vs. 11 deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S.), according to a newly released “NYC Vital Signs” report on suicide and self-inflicted injuries. The percent of suicides by firearm in New York City is less than one-fourth the nationwide proportion and is low compared to other major U.S cities.
John Gruber August 17, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Commack has a HUGE problem will bullying, it thinks because it hosts a few "assemblies" that it's done its part in trying to prevent it when in reality it gets worse and worse every year.
M.... August 17, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Hopefully Commack will step up their Drug and Alcohol awareness programs which is a HUGE problem in all our school districts. I am a parent of a recovering opiate addict and have offered my support and knowledge to the district but unfortunately it fell on deaf ears...come on Commack WAKE UP!!!!
NB August 17, 2012 at 06:02 PM
If you are a star student and make the school look 'good' they turn away to the obvious. If you are different you are tormented. The 'no tolerance' on bullying is a bunch of BS. My son has been bullied since the day he started. We had 4 or 5 amazing teachers that looked out for him. The emotional toll has been traumatic and life altering for him. I can not wait for him to graduate. It is the parents that need to 'wake up'. Children are not born mean spirited. They learn it at home.
M.... August 17, 2012 at 06:49 PM
You misread who needs to "wake up" ....I was referring to the School District addressing alcohol, drug abuse, bullying, etc....
Trisha August 17, 2012 at 06:56 PM
All these thousand dollar bat mitphas & sweet 16's.....I hope parents know their child deserves them. I hope That they are not bullies, that they do not judge people, and if they have nothing nice to say, they don't say anything. I have been parties where I've heard a parent say "oh, we dont like them", referring to an uninvited child. Parents wake up, bullying is learned from you. We're all guilty of negative energy at one time or another-it needs to start at home. Parents, if you have nothing nice to say about a person, pray for them instead.
GLENN August 18, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Trisha, My daughter was in girl scouts years back and the leaders daughter tormented my daughter, the girl told my daughter the up coming party was canceled and she shouldn't come, the party was not canceled when i called the mother to ask her she said oh my daughter she is too funny ,I called her out and said that wasnt very nice, then the mother tormented both of us for years after that till this day if I run into this woman she will say something like..wow is your daughter still so sensitive!
Corrie Morton-Greiner August 18, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Bullying is certainly a problem in Commack, but there is a huge undercurrent of academic pressure in thie district, as well. There is so much emphasis placed on Commack's successful record on state exams that teachers and parents often forget to put the children first. Students are so much more than the numbers they receive on a piece of paper. Competitive school districts like Commack have lost sight of this. Teachers used to be mentors and role models for young people, and some still are, but some feel that their days begin and end with doling out massive amounts of work and harsh assessments. Others give out work inconsistently or do not maintain appropriate contact with parents when there is a significant change in student performance. Who suffers? The student does. He/She feels inadequate and ashamed of their performance. Performance on the athletic fields and in the classroom mean everything in Commack. We really need to examine this whole approach to education. Young people are being judged by their peers, their teachers, and their parents. Who do they have left to turn to when this happens?
Tracey August 18, 2012 at 02:08 PM
The prevalence of drug/alcohol abuse is most often a sign of undiagnosed emotional/psychiatric issues. People abuse drugs and alcohol as a way of escaping the emotional pain they are struggling with. There needs to be screenings for depression for all high schoolers, as well as in-depth education on mental illness. Through education, we can help teens recognized mental illness as an illness, not a sign of weakness. With the eradication of the stigma of mental illness, teens may be more willing to ask for the help that they may need.
Tracey August 18, 2012 at 05:43 PM
And....how about a class on "coping with stress and anxiety" so that teens can learn healthy coping skills rather than resorting to unhealthy ones, like numbing themselves with drugs & alcohol.
Trisha August 19, 2012 at 09:07 PM
So sorry to hear that.....it's obvious the apple didnt fall far from the tree. One day your daughter will realize how she's better off not hanging with someone like that
IMHO August 20, 2012 at 04:04 AM
With cyber-bullying, bullies can torment 24 hrs a day... Our kids are too young to know how to deal with these jerks.. The district and the police need to treat bullying as the crime (possibly a hate crime) that it is. Bullies need to know that it's not cool, and not funny. And parents NEED to beg their children to tell them if they are being bullied. 5 suicides in 4 years......
Paul L. August 20, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I wouldn't want my child in a school that would allow a parent to cause such trouble.
Cmw August 20, 2012 at 06:03 PM
As a graduate of CHS I can say I have been bullied by the staff and have seen others bullied/judged unfairly. Plain and simple: the school needs better role models for the students.
Matt August 20, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Since when is bullying new in schools? It's been around since the advent of schools. Technology has really created a lot of problems for kids. 24hr cyber-bullying, non-stop texting of utter stupidity, and way too many pictures and videos. I'm not envious of kids these days. I think it was much easier when there weren't cameras everywhere and a bully would occasionally get the c$$p kicked out of him. And guess what? The school didn't get involved, there were no pictures taken, no mentioned of it on facebook and the only thing tweeting were the birds flying over the bully's head.
Bleu Green August 21, 2012 at 01:39 AM
I do agree that technology is a part of the problem....someone is always texting,tweeting ,posting etc.....most kids in Commack have iphones & ipads & think they are so much better than the next kid. There is much favoritism at the H.S. There is alot of pressure as well with IB this & IB that....& kids up all night working. It is true if you do not excel ....well then you are lost. I do believe the H.S is too crowded.....there should be 2 . There are some decent teachers but not many as said before they care more about how well they do and not so much about the kids. Some excel more in one area than another & thats ok . One sad thing that i have heard & others have heard as well is that when you say you are from Commack you get a reaction like OH Commack ....they are their own breed!! No matter how many alcohol or drug or whatever programs really is not the answer. The ones that want to do those things sadly are just going to do it anyways. We should have a few dogs roaming the school daily....call them mascots if you must. Another big help would be to bus all the H.S kids ....no driving to school. It is too crowded & too many cars were hit in the parking lot!! There are so many improvements that need to be made ...
rick August 29, 2012 at 01:24 AM
The petition received 2,852 signatures before it the deadline to sign it passed. It also alleges that 17 Commack High School students committed suicide in the past five years, more than three times the number reported by school officials. Were these students at CHS at the time of their deaths? I beleive tha tmany of these had already GRADUATED from CHS.
jillj August 31, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Hey Commack Patch did you investigate these numbers( 17 committed suicide in 5 years) were they in CHS or had they alreadsy graduated????
GLENN August 31, 2012 at 11:58 PM
good question. This all comes down to mom and dad putting a effort into the child. Commack has many parents that only care about their social life and can't wait to send the kid away for the weekend so they can socialize, many of these parents just never grew up and are very self centered! Poor kids.
GLENN September 01, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Tracey, Screening for depression, this is not the schools business, I wouldn't want some school therapist screening my child. The nanny state is big enough, this is the parents job we cannot hand over all this power to the school, they will start to tell us what to do with our kids at home, where would the line be drawn. The school diet. should not have that much control/power over our children.
GM September 01, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Suicide is a mystery. The 2012 valedictorian from Dobbs Ferry HS just jumped from her dorm window at Columbia to end her llfe. We are all wired differently and have varying sensitivity to the stimulus in our lives. Long Island and lower NY area kids are in a pressure cooker right out of the womb. Kudos to the district for trying to reach out and do something. If nothing else, it's a conversation starter which gives parents the opportunity to discuss the matter, and maybe, uncover signs of depression. (Next, they should dump the IB program and start teaching to learn rather than teaching to test.) Teen years are moody years and experimental years. With that, It's hard for anybody to see this kind of thing coming.

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