Connecticut Town’s Third Teen Death in Two Months Places Mental Health at Forefront

Members of the community in Darien, Connecticut, joined together in a Zoom call this past week to focus on the warning signs of suicide and mental illness in the wake of the death of a 16-year-old boy last weekend, the third death in two months of teen boys in the coastal town in Fairfield County, in the southwestern corner of the state.

“This is the third student that the school has grieved in the past two months,” said Darien Superintendent of Schools Alan Addley, according to CT Examiner. “The pain of losing these beautiful young lives is unbearable. It is devastating for the families, the school, and the town. Our school community is understandably hurting from these tragic losses of life.”

Hayden Thorsen, a hockey player, reportedly died by suicide May 21. In April, 16-year-old Henry Farmer, also a hockey player, died reportedly of a medical complication. Matthew McEvoy, 17, a lacrosse player, died by suicide in March.

Darien Police Lt. Jeremiah Marron said they are conducting an investigation of the two suicides, but do not believe they are connected.

“When we have two incidents of this type, and in the time frame it took place, it is incumbent upon us as investigators to closely examine the circumstances to ascertain if there are any potential connections,” Marron said, as reported by the Stamford Advocate. “As of this date, other than the fact that these two young residents attended the same school and were of the same age, the Darien Police Department has not identified anything to suggest that these two tragedies are related.”

According to the report at the Examiner, one of the leaders of the Zoom call was Frank Bartolomeo, senior clinical advisor for adolescent services at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan.

Bartolomeo observed the office of U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a press statement in December that warned of the nation’s mental health crisis in young people that, he said, has most recently been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real and widespread. Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide — and rates have increased over the past decade.” Murthy said, adding:

The COVID-19 pandemic further altered their experiences at home, school, and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating. The future well-being of our country depends on how we support and invest in the next generation.

The town of Darien, Bartolomeo said, has worked to create a “massive” response after Thorsen’s death.

Addley said the school “is working closely with medical health professionals, the town and other agencies to support our students in the grieving process and to support their ongoing mental health.”

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Depressed Teen” by Bingodesigns.

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