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.