DERRY — Staff and students at Pinkerton Academy are mourning the death of a popular 15-year-old boy who took his own life.
Many at the school were in shock yesterday as they struggled to cope with news of the sophomore's death, according to Pinkerton spokesman Robin Perrin. The school's headmaster received a call from Derry police that the student committed suicide at home the previous night, Perrin said.
"There were a lot of tears, a lot of tissues," Perrin said. "He was a very popular student and had a lot of friends."
He said there was a steady stream of students visiting the guidance office yesterday.
Upon hearing the news, the school immediately notified all its teachers, who then spoke to their students.
There was a moment of silence, counseling was offered, and teachers gave students the opportunity to talk about the boy's death. Students were encouraged to express their feelings and share memories of their classmate by writing notes to be placed in "memory boxes" at the school, Perrin said.
Counseling also was available to staff during the day yesterday, at the end of which the school's crisis team was to meet and consider how to deal with the next school day. More counseling would be made available today if necessary to help the more than 3,200 students and others cope, he said.
"Pinkerton is a close-knit community, whether a student, employee or trustee," Perrin said. "It is always a sad day when we lose a member of the family."
Two of the student's former teachers said they were stunned to hear of the boy's death.
"This is a tragedy," said Maura Moore, his U.S. government teacher last year. Moore said he was an intelligent student with a bright future.
Ken Norton, director of the Connect Suicide Prevention Program for the New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, said the signs aren't always obvious before someone takes their own life.
"People should be watching out for each other very carefully," he said. "The best way to prevent suicide is by talking about it."
Obvious warning signs could include expressions of hopelessness, extreme anger, withdrawing from family and friends, and signs of substance abuse, he said.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's toll free number is 1-800-273-TALK.
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