Patterson Mill Middle High School principal Wayne Thibeault yesterday posted a letter on the school’s website with tips to help parents talk to their children about the sad news that a student had died early Monday. Harford County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Monica Worrell said the 16-year-old boy was found dead by a family member in his Abingdon home at 6:40 a.m. Monday morning. Their investigation determined the Patterson Mill High School student had committed suicide and left a note behind. Worrell said their investigation turned up no evidence that bullying was involved.
In his letter to parents, Thibeault urged them to talk with their children about this loss and share their feelings. He made school counselors available to students at the school, and urged parents to contact the counselors if they need help.
The text of his letter is copied here:
Dear Parents of Patterson Mill Middle High Students,
The Patterson Mill Middle High School community was saddened to hear of the sudden death of one of our students. The death of any young person is a loss that, in one way or another, affects each of us. The tragic circumstances of a teen death are perhaps more difficult to accept.
We have asked the assistance of the HCPS Crisis Intervention Team to help our school community deal with this loss. We are providing support to all students and staff to help them cope with this tragedy. You may anticipate questions and a need to talk about the death with your child.
As student, parent, and staff, we are struck by a wide range of emotions when confronted with death, particularly one that is so sudden. These emotions are particularly difficult for young people to understand and may trigger many questions. Situations such as these may create a variety of reactions including: sleep disturbances, temporary loss of appetite, and/or anxiety, or fears about his/her personal health and safety. Young people may also use humor to deal with their feelings, and although this may seem odd, it is a common coping strategy. Some suggestions for dealing with any concerns your child may have include:
Listen to your child and let him/her know you are available to answer any questions
Encourage your child to express his/her feelings and talk to him/her about your own feelings
Don’t be afraid to cry in his/her presence and share your own loss experiences
Talk to your child about your personal beliefs regarding death and loss
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s reactions to this loss, please do not hesitate to call the school for assistance. The following individuals are available to answer questions or meet with your child individually:
Craig Malone, School Counselor
Mary Malone, School Counselor
Terence Hansrote, School Counselor
Kelly Truitt, School Counselor
Jane Russell, School Psychologist
Wayne Thibeault, Principal