The death of a Patterson Mill High School student has been ruled a suicide, police said, but bullying is not believed to have played a role in the incident.
Harford County Sheriff’s deputies were called to an Abingdon home at approximately 6:40 a.m. Monday morning where they found a 16-year-old male dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to sheriff’s office spokeswoman Monica Worrell.
The death was later ruled a suicide, Worrell said, and a note was found with the youth’s body.
Responding to rumors circulating through the school community Monday about why the youth took his own life, Worrell said investigators determined that bullying was not to blame.
“It has been determined that this was not related to bullying,” Worrell said.
A letter signed by Principal Wayne Thibeault was sent home with students Monday, encouraging parents to support their children and seek help from school counselors if necessary. Harford County Public Schools spokeswoman Teri Kranefeld referred further requests for comment and information to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
The text of Thibeault’s letter follows:
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