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East Hampton Teen’s Suicide Leads to State Mental Health Funds

It’s not a lot of money, but it could help save an unhappy student’s life.

The recently unveiled New York State budget, which went into effect today, includes $150,000 for mental health services in South Fork High Schools. And it’s thanks to the grief and outrage of a high school principal over the suicide of one of his students.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senator Kenneth LaValle sponsored the mental health provision following the September, 2012 suicide of David Hernandez, an East Hampton High School student.

But according to Assemblyman Thiele, Adam Fine, the East Hampton High School Principal, “was the impetus behind the legislation. The East Hampton school district and Southampton Hospital met and said ‘never again’ would there be a lack of mental health services for the students.”

The request for funding will help create a three-phase approach to helping students navigate the complex dynamics of growing up in a complicated and multi-cultural world. “It’s not unique to East Hampton,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “It’s a tragic story.”

According to an article in The East Hampton Star David Hernandez’ mother Carmita Barros said her son’s death was the result of bullying by his peers. “’David had been bullied by six classmates, all of whom were Latino,’” She told The Star. “’David, was apparently tormented for being gay. Though he had been meeting each week with a social worker and a psychiatrist, the anguish ultimately grew too great.’”

The new mental health funding will allow schools to implement a three-phased strategy when dealing with the mental health needs of students. This year’s provision is the seed money for phase one which is essentially crisis control. Assemblyman Thiele said additional funding would be sought from school districts, towns and the New York State Office of Mental Health to carry out the following phases.

According to an article in 27East school districts will work in collaboration with local agencies that administer mental health services, Stony Brook doctors in psychiatric residency, Southampton Hospital and “other local sites to provide trained mental health care.”


MLT April 02, 2014 at 07:53 AM
Mental health is one of the most underestimated deceases in the World. Suicide takes away a life because of a prolonged state of depression, lack of services to reach out and take immediate action to help the persons find a way to live with the pain and hurt until things feel better. I lost my son to suicide because i was afraid of the possibility that he would take his own life. Intervention and prevention will help but it takes much more.
Catherine M. Casey April 02, 2014 at 09:47 AM
The sad circumstances of David's suicide send the message loud and clear that it is necessary not only for the bullied to receive help but the bullies need intervention too. We all know bullies are cowards, and can behave like a pack of dogs. Its those kids that need services to prevent future tragedies.
Andrea Gurvitz April 02, 2014 at 11:39 AM
Every parent must watch for every sign of change in their children and take action. Mental illness--whether biological or behavioral--creeps up. Don't take for granted tween and teen behaviors as "normal". Get mental health diagnoses and fight, fight, for funding aid for your child's mental health recovery.
christie nicolle April 02, 2014 at 12:31 PM
after reading this, who needs a classroom? Better to home school your kids... even Teddy Roosevelt was home schooled -
David April 02, 2014 at 01:25 PM
After reading this why is the east hampton school district cutting the school counseling dept? Those are the services our children need in this community especially after crisis. David's death should be a sign of the epidemic on the east end. Mental health should be at the forefront! NOT CUT BY THE EAST HAMPTON SCHOOL DISTRICT!!!!

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