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Jan 18, 2017 3:53 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Community Mourns Death Of High School Student

Jan 19, 2017 12:15 PM

East Hampton High School was offering support this week to students following the death on Monday of Matthew Lester, a senior, apparently by suicide.

When the high school reopened on Tuesday after the three-day weekend, the principal, Adam Fine, shared the bad news with students. Members of the crisis response team have been made available to meet with them individually or in groups, and Joe’s Project, a post-suicide support group sponsored by the Huntington-based Family Service League, will be available if students need counseling. Parents have been advised that the school office has a list of school and community mental health resources it can provide, and the principal also circulated advice for parents whose children would be attending the funeral of a friend.

One of the many suicide prevention services available is Response of Suffolk County, a 24/7 hotline that also offers help online and by having volunteers come to school districts to teach students about mental health, depression, suicide prevention and the first steps in supporting a community after such a tragedy.

“The first step is to tend to the emotional needs of the community,” said Meryl Cassidy, executive director of Response of Suffolk County, on Wednesday. “Thoughtful communication is needed. It’s OK to acknowledge that this is a sad thing, grief takes many forms and there’s no right way to grieve. We want to help by working with them on internal coping skills and how to keep their environment safe. We want to provide immediate, barrier-free help.” Response of Suffolk County can be reached at 631-751-7500, and the National Suicide Prevention can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

East Hampton Town Police were called to the Lester family residence in Springs at approximately 5 p.m. on Monday, and the teenager was treated and transported by officers and EMTs from the Springs Fire Department to Southampton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Visiting will be at the Yardley & Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton on Friday, January 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral will be held at the First Presbyterian Church on Main Street on Saturday at 11 a.m.

“It is a terrible tragedy, and the local school community is having a difficult time dealing with the loss of a fine young man,” East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo said in a email on Wednesday. “The police department offers its sincerest condolences to the family.”

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So, so sad. My heart is breaking for this poor child's family.
By Dafsgirl (64), Southampton on Jan 18, 17 5:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Heartbreaking... My thoughts and prayers for Matthew, his family and friends, and his classmates.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Jan 18, 17 7:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Love never dies.
By Killerfrog (38), Southampton on Jan 18, 17 9:18 PM
1 member liked this comment

I mean no criticism of this high school or the local health care system, but why, in god's name, is this still happening?

We are knowledgeable enough NOW to understand and to address the emotional stresses of adolescence, why haven't we figured out yet how to spot suicidal teens and intervene timely?

How is it that we are still so stupid? There is nothing sadder than teenage suicide.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 18, 17 10:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
So very heartbreaking. I pray this family is sheltered with an endless support system of family, friends and love.

Spotting these situations is extremely difficult. Its still happening bc we haven't broken the stigma. And the health care system IS failing those who are stricken with depression. Again, I am praying for this family's strength.

By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jan 19, 17 7:36 AM
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Sometimes the signs are not always there, a troubled mind can hide deep inside. RIP, may God bless the family and his soul.
By mtkfishman (76), montauk on Jan 20, 17 8:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
Prayers for the Lester family and all of the East Hampton community.
By J. Frankenbach (15), Southampton on Jan 19, 17 12:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
My heart aches... prayers to ease the pain. Please talk to your parents. If something is hard Moms and Dads can help. Nothing is too big to handle.
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Jan 20, 17 7:45 AM
A loss that will never end...Of note is that statistics show that quite often, especially with young teens, and more often boys, suicide occurs after an dispute with either a peer or a parent. This often happens over a weekend. The adolescent brain, again especially in boys, is prone to impulse and lacks the ability to process acute despair. That is why, with the fortunate ones, a healthy distraction that "changes the subject" or provides a bit of perspective-- a friend intervening, a parent being ...more
By candyw (20), wainscott on Jan 23, 17 12:11 PM
Just heartbreaking. Such a loss. If you know someone having a hard time...let them or someone they know that someone cares to help. A lot of lip service is given to prevention of bullying...but it is indeed alive and well...and people who know need to speak up. It could save someone's life.
By 16945 (15), Riverhead on Jan 23, 17 2:55 PM
So terribly sad - my heart goes out to the family - thoughts and prayers for them and for the young man. Please follow up this article if there is any indicator as to why this happened - especially if pernicious issue of social media is involved - parents may not be privy to info regarding insults and degradations of this type right in their child's pocket vis-à-vis this relatively new source of bullying.
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Jan 26, 17 2:03 PM