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Newton South principal says school working to support students after teen's suicide

Posted by Leslie Anderson  February 7, 2014 12:25 PM

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The principal of Newton South High School informed the community today that junior Roee Grutman's death Thursday was a suicide, and outlined what services are being offered for students and families who need support following the tragedy.

Grutman is the third teenager to die in Newton since October, when Newton North senior Karen Douglas and newton South sophomore Katie Stack took their own lives within two weeks of each other.

Newton police and the Middlesex district attorney's office have not released details on Grutman's death.

Here is principal Joel Stembridge's the letter in full:

"Dear Newton South Community,

It is so difficult to write to you to share our experience over the last two days. I want you to know that our students and staff are taking care of each other, and that through our sadness there are lots of hugs and stories. Thank you once again to our community for embracing our school, from food to tissues to well wishes.

Roee was personable, engaging, bright, articulate, and compassionate. He was an excellent student, served as a class officer for the class of 2015, participated in athletics, and was a peer advisor for a freshman homeroom. He was very connected to many adults in the building, and was not shy about engaging in long conversations. Roee’s family has shared with us that his death was by suicide. There were no indications to any of us – or to his family – that Roee was even contemplating suicide. There are no easy answers. It is simply beyond comprehension.

Roee’s death is also so deeply troubling as this is the third student suicide in Newton since the beginning of the school year. We are all extremely concerned about this, and are working with experts in the field to know how to proceed. This issue will be discussed further at the upcoming Tuesday, February 11th community meeting at 7:00 in the NSHS Auditorium.

I share this to encourage you to have a meaningful conversation with your children, and to remind them that no matter what they are going through, we (the adults in their life) can help them through it. That things will get better. That we love them, and will move heaven and earth to provide the support that they need.

We will send information about services for Roee when we have those details.

We will observe a moment of silence during homeroom on Monday.

While many of our students are still working through sadness and other emotions, we are continually struck by the resilience of our young people. It has been a difficult two days, to be sure, and it is also wonderful to witness teachers, staff and students supporting each other throughout the school.

This weekend, it would be helpful if there are opportunities for students to connect with other students in healthy ways, with adults near-by. We want to ask you to think about opening your home this weekend to students in order to create a safe place for kids to gather.

Also, we wanted to be sure that you had information about what to do if someone you know needs additional support. The following community resources are available over the weekend:
• Riverside Emergency Services: (800) 529-5077
• Bridge Over Troubled Waters: (617) 423-9575
• “Samariteens” – Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 252-8336
• “Samariteens” – online chat: www.samaitanshope.org/im-here
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255)
• Newton Police Department: (617) 796-2101 or 911

Again, thank you for your partnership.

Best regards,

Joel Stembridge
Principal, Newton South High School"

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.

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