Monday, January 25, 2016
UPDATE Staples High School English teacher Cody Thomas, 27, took his own life, Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon told the school community today.
“Mr. Thomas’ death has been declared a suicide and we are all profoundly saddened by this event,” Landon said in an email to Staples parents.
An email from him on Saturday informed them of the death of Thomas, of Fairfield, who was also co-adviser to the award-winning student newspaper Inklings.
Landon said an announcement at Staples today told students: “All of us want you to know that we are here to help you in any way we can. We know that Mr. Thomas’ death has been declared a suicide.
“Even though we might try to understand the reasons for him doing this, we can never really know what was going on that made him take his life.
“One thing that’s important to remember is that there is never just one reason for a suicide. There are always many reasons or causes, and we will never be able to figure them all out.”
Landon told parents they may want to talk to their child about death “because it impacts each person in different ways.”
“How teens react will depend on the relationship they had with Mr. Thomas, their age, and their prior experience with death,” he added.
Attached to the email were a list of resources he said parents may find helpful in talking with their children.
There was an outpouring of tributes for the popular teacher on social media.
“Mr. Thomas may have passed, but he’s far, far from gone,” wrote one student. “He’s molded too many minds and touched too many people to disappear anytime soon.”
Wrote another: “He went above and beyond what was expected of him. He didn’t make kids better students he made them better people.”
Thomas had written of the difficulties he encountered upon taking the Staples job after an earlier career as a writer and editor.
“I’m not sure I could’ve survived my first year without [my coworkers],” Thomas said in a June 2014 Inklings story.
He offered similar thoughts in a Ctmirror.org article in December 2014.
“I just completed my first year as a teacher and burnout has been on my mind,” he wrote. “If my profession is replete with impossible working conditions, I wonder, ‘Am I destined for cynicism and burnout, too?’”
Zoe Brown, a former Inklings editor and now freshman at the University of Southern California, posted a remembrance of Thomas on her blog and quoted from a letter she said Thomas sent her last year.
“I became a teacher, at least in part, because I wanted to make an impact on other people,” Thomas wrote. “That sounds altruistic, but, if you really think about it, it’s an ego thing. Everyone wants to know they’ve left some kind of legacy, and what better way to leave a legacy than influencing the future leaders of the world.”
According to a biography on the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University website where he was an instructor, Thomas graduated from New York University’s Arthur Carter Institute of Journalism.
It said he went on to write for the Stamford Advocate and was an editor at Revolver, the rock journal, and had played in local bands.
There was no immediate word on survivors or services.
Thomas was the third death to strike the Staples community in three months.
Christopher Lemone, a 17-year Staples High School outreach counselor, died Oct. 18, 2015 at age 49. And Staples freshman Christopher Lanni, 14, died Dec. 23, 2015.
Posted 01/25/16 at 11:21 AM Permalink
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This may be a useful asset to the students: http://turningpointct.org
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. While we’re not clinicians, we know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help. Fortunately, we found what worked for us. Our goal is to provide information and support to help you choose your path so that you don’t have to struggle the way we did.