Fordham Prep Copes with Student Deaths

Fordham Prep 2 - Jack Brennan The Fordham Ram.jpg

By Erin Shanahan

Students, parents and staff at Fordham Preparatory School continued to mourn the loss of two sophomores during the past month as the school held meetings and brought in counselors to help its community cope with the tragedies.

Rev. Christopher J. Devron, S.J., president of Fordham Preparatory School, said that the Fordham University administration has been assisting the all-boys high school located on the Rose Hill campus.

“So many people at the university — from the President, Fr. McShane, S.J., to John Carroll at the Office of Public Safety — have offered us practical support, resources and special attention and care to their younger brothers at the Prep,” Devron said in an email to The Fordham Ram.

Fordham Prep is technically not part of Fordham University, having become independent in 1972.

“It’s wonderful to experience, at a time of great need, how our shared Jesuit mission transcends our institutional boundaries,” Devron said.

A Fordham Prep student was killed at Philipse Manor train station in Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County on Jan. 18. The sophomore was struck and killed by a Metro-North train after police say he deliberately stepped in front of it.

A second student from Fordham Preparatory School was fatally struck by a Metro-North train in the Bronx last week.

Prep students were made aware of the second fatality last Tuesday morning, Feb. 2, while in their small mentor groups.

“Our teachers shared the news of their classmate’s death with all students,” Devron said. “It was a very safe and protected environment.”

Fordham Prep and Fordham University brought in Dr. Amelio D’Onofrio, Clinical Professor and Director of the Psychological Services Institute. “Dr. D’Onofrio is a respected psychologist, published author and an authority in the field of adolescent mental health, self-destructive behavior, suicide and depression,” Devron said.

“The university Counseling Center also sent additional clinicians to assist our Prep counselors.”

Dr. D’Onofrio, who is an alumnus of Fordham Preparatory, and the faculty have been working with students and parents to provide information about suicide factors, risks, prevention and coping mechanisms. The school also held a special meeting with parents on Thursday regarding this information.

In addition, the Fordham Prep administration has mobilized what it calls the “Prep Crisis Team.” This team includes counselors, a clinical social worker, members of Campus Ministry, teachers and staff according to Devron. “These resources were organized in order to offer support and assistance to our student body,” he said.

Fellow Prep students supported one another following the tragedies as well. Notes with words of inspiration were posted by students on every locker at the Prep last week, saying things like, “You are loved.”

A post on Fordham Prep’s Facebook page with pictures of the notes received over 100 comments in support of the community. Fordham Prep parent Sheila Healy commented,

“I am a Prep mom. I wanted to add that this idea came from 15 students. They thought of it. Asked permission to execute it. And did it from their hearts.”
Alex Farah, Fordham Prep ’12 and FCRH ’16, reacted on Facebook to the locker photo by saying, “This is what FP is. Men for others.”

Devron also brought the community together in the University Church to celebrate a Mass of Hope and Healing on Sunday morning, Feb. 7. In his homily, Devron called for the community to stand together and continue the process of healing after such a difficult tragedy.

“Today and in the days to come, stay in the boat with your brothers and with the Lord who stills the waves and instills in us a greater wind — the Holy Spirit — God’s ultimate gift of peace and calm,” Devron said in his homily, “With the Holy Spirit’s peace problems get transformed into possibilities, negatives turn to positives, defeat into victory, stumbling blocks into stepping stones and crucifixions into resurrections.”
Devron called for Fordham University students to help look out for their younger counterparts at the Prep.

“Since Prep and university students share the same campus, if you encounter a Prep student on campus about whom you are worried, please contact the Office of Public Safety or our Dean of Students, Mr. Steve Pettus by calling the Prep at (718) 367-7500. Taking that first step is very important.”

Dr. Jeffrey Ng, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Fordham University, also called for Fordham students to take action and help prevent suicide.

“As a community, I think it’s critically important for us to recognize that mental health and suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility,” Ng said.

“Framing vulnerability as a normal part of the human experience and help-seeking as a sign of strength contributes significantly to reducing suicide risk on campus, especially in the context of recent tragedies like those at Fordham Prep.”
Devron asked the Fordham community to continue offering support for the students at the Prep.

“Times like this remind us of both the fragility and the value of life,” he told The Fordham Ram.

“May your Jesuit education at Fordham and our collective reflection on these tragedies, inspire in all of us a greater commitment to become ‘women and men for others.’”
Fordham’s Dean of Students Christopher Rodgers provided the following information about resources for students in crisis:

In any emergency, please call Public Safety at (718) 817-2222 immediately.​ At Rose Hill, counseling is available through Counseling and Psychological Services in the basement of O’Hare Hall: (718) 817-3725 or by calling Campus Ministry at (718) 817-4500.

Students may also contact Christopher Rodgers, dean of students at Rose Hill, at (718) 817-4755/​ or their resident assistant or resident director for assistance. Members of the University community can also call ​Public Safety​ at any time at (718) 817-2222 with questions about counseling services or requests for assistance.

There are 8 comments

  1. whyadamlanzadidit

    Fordham Prep is a known safe haven for pedophile priests.

    If you Google Father Roy Drake and Neal Gumpel, you can see at least one story of one pedophile priest that was at Fordham prep at one time, and was allegedly their recently, after spending 2 years at the St. John Vainney Center in Missouri. Coincidently, the St. John Vainny center was also the residence of father Robert Larson, who raped 17 children, 5 of whom committed suicide.

    1. Neal

      I am Neal Gumpel and thank you. The moment I heard about the suicides including the one back in 2014
      McShane hopes you don’t remember that one…. I thought the same thing. Again thank you

  2. George Ashur

    “There was a similar series of suicides” — Why similar? How similar? I find your comments highly inappropriate, full of inference and conjecture, and potentially very hurtful.

    The larger issue of this story is that, from these tragic deaths, the Fordham Prep community is coming together with love and support, demonstrating the best of Jesuit values.

    1. Neal

      Hey George
      Open your Jesuit loving ears. As a victim of one of the Boys in the Bronx I spend half my time thinking about killing myself and frankly have more or less destroyed my health slowly as a result of RAPE. Ask MCSHANE
      he paid about a half a million to one rape victim of Roy Drake Jesuit and publicly apologized in the New York Times. Molestation continues among Jesuits and Suicide is often the result.

      1. Neil Allen

        Sorry to hear what happened to you. Catholics will go to hell for supporting it (Matt 18:6-14).

        George has given in to the god of organized pedophilia, and his church, the Catholic church.

  3. Neil Allen

    There was a similar series of suicides in Victoria, Australia at a Catholic school named Ballarat, where over 40 victims of two child abusing priests committed suicide, and no one put the pieces together until 40 victims had died. There is a massive Royal commission investigating it, since the church knew.

    For more details, and the police reports, Google

    theage Victoria churches suicide victims

    Someone should investigate. If those two were victims, there are probably others.

    1. Reasonable

      So, because the school has a religious affiliation, that automatically means that the deceased were victims of sexual abuse? A bit of a stretch even for the most creative mind. Of course all avenues should be investigated, but I think it’s a bit presumptuous to assume that these tragedies must have a connection to some abuse simply because the institution is a religious one, especially when there are so many other pressures exerted on high school students (schoolwork, friends, extracurriculars, etc.)

      1. Neil Allen

        Please point out exactly where I said that it automatically means that the deceased were victims of abuse. Please cite it by line number.

        It’s not a stretch at all. There were 40 victims at one school in Australia , and they all committed suicide after being abused by 2 Catholic priests. The biggest problem is that the public did not know that the kids were abused. The Catholic school absolutely knew, and hid the information, as they did all over the world. That is their policy, as everyone now knows. As a result, 40 victims died.

        Had the Catholic Church told the truth, and punished the abusers, and got help for every victim, as Jesus demanded in Matthew 18:6-14, those children would probably be alive today.

        The movie “Spotlight” showed that in Boston, the Catholic Church hid 271 abusers, which was 18% of the 1500 priests in Boston. No one knows how many there are at your school except for the other priests.

        The key issue in the Catholic Church is that 100% of the priests that know about the child abusers hide it, and most of the victims never come forward, because they know that Catholics will not believe them, and that Catholics will defend the church instead of the children.

        How many more suicides should happen before you think that should be investigated?


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