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Teen’s suicide note shocks Fresh Meadows residents

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The student, whose name has not been released because of the nature of the incident, was found in his home...

By Jennifer Warren

An 18-year-old student left a note behind at his high school threatening to kill himself in his Fresh Meadows home last Thursday, police said.

The student, whose name has not been released because of the nature of the incident, was found in his home depressed but unhurt, and was taken to Queens Hospital Center for evaluation, said Detective Valerie St. Rose, a police spokeswoman.

Neither the police nor the Board of Education would identify the school the teen attends.

A neighbor who witnessed the police response said a swarm of 10 police, fire, and emergency vehicles surrounded the teen’s house on a manicured block not far from the St. John’s University campus.

“They came in force,” said the neighbor, who declined to give her name. “You’d think it was a house full of criminals, but I guess they’re afraid because of what’s happened,” she said, referring to the recent rash of school shootings in California and local threats that have prompted the closing of several schools in the New York area.

When school officials found the note, the neighbor said they called police and the boy’s mother. Shortly after the police arrived at the house, the mother arrived and let them inside, the neighbor said.

The boy was found sitting quietly in the living room with what appeared to be a rifle, the neighbor said. But the boy’s mother told the neighbor that it was actually a broken BB gun, the neighbor said.

The boy “loved to play with it,” the mother told residents who gathered around the house to see what the commotion was all about.

Police officers led the boy from his house with his wrists handcuffed behind his back and brought him to Queens Hospital Center, the neighbor said.

Harry Gilbert, another neighbor of the teenager, said he was a nice and ordinary teen who often rode his bicycle up and down their residential street. The teen also shoveled snow for his elderly neighbor.

“I’m sorry to hear about it, that’s all,” Gilbert said.

Deputy Superintendent of Queens High Schools Rowena Karsh said that for the past 25 years area schools have had a number of preventative programs in place to deal with depressed and potentially suicidal students.

“We have guidance counselors and mediation programs where students learn conflict resolution,” she said. Karsh said that while reports of violence and suicides have always been taken seriously, these days there is a more heightened awareness.

“Every single thing is responded to as if it was a very, very serious matter,” she said. “We try to be proactive — to take preventative measures. Generally, it has been successful.”

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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