CLARK, NJ — Students at Arthur L. Johnson High School are mourning a classmate who died Monday evening.
“I am writing to you with great sadness that one of our ALJ seniors passed away this evening. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends,” Clark's School Superintendent Ed Grande wrote in a letter to parents Monday night.
The 17-year-old girl’s name is being held until all next of kin have been notified, according to police. Town officials have confirmed the cause of death was suicide.
According to Grande’s letter, school counselors and support personnel from Union County’s Traumatic Loss Coalition for Youth Program will be on site assisting those affected by this death.
Data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, indicates suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States among those between the ages of 10 and 34. For the state of New Jersey, it is the third leading cause of death for the same age group, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"It's important for kids to talk parents, if they feel hopeless. Parents have to talk to their kids all the time and be open with them," advises Maria Sikoutris Di Iorio of Hellenic Therapy Center, which specializes in psychotherapy for couples, adults, adolescents and children. "Some signs to look for are depression and any kind of change in behavior: not wanting to go to school or participate in activities they enjoy, sleeping too much or sleeping too little."
"If you see anxiety or rage, I would worry," added Di Iorio, whose office is in Scotch Plains. "As parents, lots of times we don't want to talk because we are so fearful and the conversation is painful. We have to talk to our children."
There are many suicide prevention and information resources. Caring Contact in Westfield provides confidential 24/7 call-in at 908-232-2880 or text ‘heart’ to 741741 for the text crisis hotline. For more general inquiries call the main office for assistance at 908-301-1899.
NJ Hopeline offers confidential help at 1-855-NJ-HOPELINE (654-6735). They also offer a web-based chat resource, and text messaging at firstname.lastname@example.org.