An Important Message to our School Community (Saturday, March 27)

To Niskayuna School District Families,

It is with incredible sadness that I write to you today to share the information that one of our high school students died on Friday, March 26. Our most sincere condolences and thoughts go out to the family and friends of our student. We know that our community will be processing this tragic news and coping with grief, and we want you to know that your school district is here for you and your family at this difficult time.

The cause of death was suicide. Suicide is a very complicated act. When someone takes their own life, it leads to a lot of questions, some of which may never be completely answered. We do know that suicide has multiple causes. The message that we need to send to everyone in our community right now, especially our children, is that help is always available. It’s really important if you or your child are not feeling well in any way to reach out
for help.

Here is one immediate resource for talking with your children about suicide: https://www.parents.com/kids/health/childrens-mental-health/how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-suicide/.

Warning signs for suicide include feelings of depression and worthlessness, withdrawing from activities, risky behavior, talking about suicide and statements about not wanting to be alive.

We are prepared to do whatever we can as a school district to support all of our students, families and staff members at this time. School social workers, counselors and psychologists will be available for drop-in support for all Niskayuna students at Van Antwerp Middle School from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. this evening, Saturday, March 27, and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, Sunday, March 28. Students should use the main entrance to Van Antwerp (facing Story Avenue).

Updated: Virtual Counseling Support on Sunday

Virtual Counseling Support will be provided to students from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at this link: https://meet.google.com/yss-mdea-rpn

School social workers, counselors and psychologists can be accessed by email or district phone this weekend at the email addresses and phone numbers listed at the end of this email. Phones/email will be checked until 9:30 this evening and again from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Sunday. Information about a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline and a crisis textline is listed below.

Our children, as well as adults, may have many reactions to news about someone’s death, even if they did not know them. Reactions such as sadness, confusion, and anger are common. We encourage you to talk with your child. Discussing thoughts and feelings about death is important in helping your child work through a difficult situation. Reassure them that whatever they are feeling is okay. Additional resources for talking with your child about death and suicide are available at https://www.niskayunaschools.org/grief-resources/.

We remind everyone about the importance of avoiding speculation on social media and otherwise, as this can only lead to more inaccurate information and contribute to the difficulty for those most affected. Similarly, we ask our whole community to be sensitive to the family’s privacy as well as the fact that even well-intentioned reaching out can be overwhelming for a family dealing with tragedy.

We ask our high school families to note that we will be sharing a message about this situation with students at 3 p.m. today. We have decided that our students need to hear from the school directly that we are thinking about them and here to support them.

We are a community united in our love and support for our young people. This news saddens and shakes all of us, and may continue to do so in the time ahead. I also know that we will come together and draw strength from each other in the coming days. There is no doubt that our students will come together to remember their classmate and support each other, and we will be here for them.

Please feel free to contact me, your child’s principal or your child’s counselor if there is anything we can do to support your child at this time.

Cosimo Tangorra, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools

Suicide Prevention Hotline: Help is a Phone Call or Text Message Away

  • By Phone: 1-800-273-8255 – The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
  • By Text: Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor

Niskayuna Counselors, Social Workers and Psychologists for Support

Phones/Email will be Available until 9:30 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. After hours, please use the Suicide Prevention Hotline or Crisis Text Line listed above.

  • Alyce Malone, amalone@niskyschools.org 
  • Meg Farquharson, mfarquharson@niskyschools.org
  • Kevin McFerran, 518 488 4753, kmcferran@niskyschools.org
  • Mary Cloutier, mcloutier@niskyschools.org
  • Anita Anderson, 838-200-3946, aanderson@niskyschools.org
  • Kate Carroll, kcarroll@niskyschools.org
  • Alexa Ruchel-Brierley, aruchelbrierley@niskyschools.org
  • Allison Nunez, 518-944-0753, anunez@niskyschools.org
  • Marina Maxwell, 518-339-8377, mmaxwell@niskyschools.org
  • Jess Brennan, jbrennan@niskyschools.org
  • Bailey Pangman, 838-200-3954, bpangman@niskyschools.org
  • Meg McCarthy, mmccarthy@niskyschools.org
  • Annie Hughes, ahughes@niskyschools.org
  • Mimi Hajjar, ahajjar@niskyschools.org
  • Ali Lupo, alupo@niskyschools.org
  • Tim Albanese, talbanese@niskyschools.org
  • Nancy Bushee, nbushee@niskyschools.org
  • Jennifer Reittinger, jreittinger@niskyschools.org
  • Leah Wertz, lwertz@niskyschools.org
  • Deb Shephard, dshephard@niskyschools.org
  • Brandon Sinisi, bsinisi@niskyschools.org, 518-415-5905
  • Janell Timmany, jtimmany@niskyschools.org 
  • Elizabeth Sabourin, esabourin@niskyschools.org
  • Maggie Williams, mwilliams@niskyschools.org