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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, October 15, 2009
GHS grieves for Andrea Guido
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
GUILDERLAND The line of mourners at the DeMarco-Stone Funeral Home Monday evening was a long and somber one. Relatives and friends were there for the family of Andrea Lynn Guido, a vibrant 16-year-old Guilderland High School student who had taken her own life.
She died on Thursday, Oct. 8.
“I asked the names of all of the kids who came to the wake to say goodbye,” said Angela Guido, Andrea’s stepmother. She described how she stood with Andrea’s father, Christopher Guido; Andrea’s mother, Elba Perkins; and her stepfather, Joe Perkins, for three hours, comforting and taking comfort from “all the kids who came to the wake.”
“It’s good to say goodbye,” said Mrs. Guido.
“My husband is an open person,” she went on. “He wants to do anything he can to help any other kids that are having problems.”
Andrea’s death has been hard for her family, Mrs. Guido said. “We didn’t know the sad side of her. She was vibrant. She had a lot of friends….
“She was an energetic, smiling girl that I just believe had a bad moment and didn’t think about the people who love her.”
“Stunning and tragic”
The school has been stunned by Andrea’s death, said superintendent John McGuire. “Our children are precious to us,” he said. “This has been nothing less than a stunning and tragic blow for all of us in the district. Our hearts go out to the family.”
He went on, “I’ve been reassured by and very proud of our colleagues.” McGuire commended the work done by the crisis response team, which helped both students and staff who were hurt by Andrea’s death.
“We’ve been doing a lot of monitoring and support across the board,” said McGuire. “We’re communicating that there is someone to talk to.”
The high school principal, Brian McCann, sent home a letter Friday, Oct. 9, the day after Andrea died, writing with “profound sadness”: “Last night we lost a member of our high school student body to suicide. Our sincere condolences and thoughts go out to the family and friends of our student.”
The school district has not identified her and the letter did not name her.
McCann went on to write that that the situation “generates high levels of anxiety and distress in our children,” and outlined support that is available to students at the school.
The district posted the letter on its website www.guilderlandschools.org where it also listed counseling services.
“Facing the issue of teen suicide is an endeavor that calls for joint school and parent involvement,” McCann wrote. He went on to list signs that parents could watch for, including: “talks about committing suicide; has trouble eating or sleeping; experiences drastic changes in behavior; withdraws from friends and/or social activities or hobbies; loses interest in hobbies, school, personal appearance; gives away prized possessions or appears to be ‘saying goodbye’; has attempted suicide before; takes unnecessary risks; has had recent severe losses of friends or family.”
McCann concluded, “Your child may be affected by this most recent tragedy even if he or she did not know the student well. We encourage you to talk to your child about what has happened.
“Discussing thoughts and feelings about death is important toward helping your child work through his or her grief. We, as a district, are balancing our duty of keeping you informed while being cautious not, in any way, ‘glamorize’ the act of suicide.”
Superintendent McGuire stressed McCann’s point that is important not to glamorize suicide, citing research that shows it can lead to more deaths. “There is a risk of that,” he said, stating that the school district is trying to “help students grieve in ways that are healthy.”
In 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Within adolescents aged 15 to nineteen, 8.2 killed themselves per 100,000, and 14.2 people aged 65 and older killed themselves per 100,000 people. There are over a million suicides per year around the world, although experts say that figure is likely to be low due to underreporting and the stigmas still attached to suicide.
Asked if the school could do anything to prevent suicide, McGuire said, “We’ve done a lot of reflecting on this. Despite everyone’s best efforts the family’s, the school’s sometimes there are no indications.”
He emphasized again that the staff is “on alert” to look for signs or listen for any stray comments.
McGuire concluded, “We’re grieving as a school community.”
The Samaritan Suicide Prevention helpline number is 689-4673.