Every year is a tough one for suicide. 2018 has been particularly difficult.
A rash of deaths — of celebrities, veterans and young people — has highlighted the enormity of the issue, for those who die by their own hand, and those they leave behind.
This Saturday (October 27) marks the 10th year that Team Emma participates in the Out of the Darkness Walk at Sherwood Island State Park. Friends and family will remember a vibrant high school student and daughter of Saugatuck Elementary School teacher Peter von Euler, who took her own life more than a decade ago.
For the 3rd year, another team will walk in memory of Cody Thomas, a beloved Staples High School English teacher.
Sherwood Island State Park. (Photo/Oliva Schoen)
No one in Westport has not been impacted by suicide. So far, 65 teams and over 450 walkers — of all ages — have registered. They’ve already raised over $90,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
On Saturday, they’ll join in a flat 2 1/2-mile loop around Sherwood Island. They’ll enjoy serene views of Long Island Sound, and the 9-11 Memorial.
They’ll think of the men, women and children they miss. And they’ll do all they can to ensure that no one else will walk in their shoes.
(Registration begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The walk starts at 12 noon, and ends around 2 p.m. Online registration closes at noon on Friday. However, on-site registrants are welcome. For more information, click here.)
Two days after the death of Cody Thomas, Staples High School students recalled him as one of the most caring and committed teachers they’d ever had.
The roots of that concern are evident in an article Thomas — who began his career as a journalist — wrote for CT Mirror in December 2014, after his 1st year in the classroom.
Describing teenagers, Thomas said:
Kids are amazing — way more incredible than most adults. The students I teach are wonderful, brilliant, and creative. If they don’t always act that way, it’s because of some undefined deadening effect caused by school.
Cody Thomas, at Staples High School’s graduation last year.
I hope to always be able to work against the negative and to restore hope in our school systems. Can a naïve, young teacher change the life of one student? Probably not, but he or she can hope.
On my first day of teaching, I went over classroom procedures and emphasized the fact that I expected students at 16 to be mature most of the time. “Most of the time,” was key to my rhetoric.
“I’m 24,” I told them. “I’m not mature all of the time.”
Despite an entire world of influences pulling me in different directions, I wanted my classroom to be a place for taking risks. Treat kids like adults, and more often than not they will act like adults.
An email from superintendent of schools Elliott Landon to parents earlier today said that Thomas’ death has been declared a suicide.
(Click here for the full CT Mirror story by Cody Thomas.)
The Staples High School community reacted with shock and grief to the death of Cody Thomas. The popular English teacher died yesterday in Fairfield. He was 27.
Thomas had a strong connection with students of all abilities. He was also admired by the staff of Inklings, the school newspaper he served as co-adviser.
Thomas — a graduate of New York University’s Arthur Carter Institute of Journalism — wrote for the Stamford Advocate before becoming a teacher. He was also an editor at a rock journal, and played in local bands.
Social media was filled with praise, from current and former students. A Staples grad wrote:
— Thank you for helping a self-conscious anxiety-ridden nerd come out of his shell.
— Thank you for introducing me to Faulkner and Joyce and DFW, while still assuring me there’s just as much intellectual thought in an episode of Futurama.
— Thank you for calling The Black Keys “angsty white girl music.”
— Thank you for always asking if I was alright junior year, when days could be especially depressive and lonely.
— Thank you for coming to my first show. Middle section. 4th row. Your girlfriend seemed nice.
— Thank you for encouraging and proofreading my writing, even when it wasn’t for your class.
— Thank you for defending my writing, even when it clashed with others.
— Thank you for inspiring more students in your few years at Staples than many teachers would be lucky to recall in decades worth of teaching.
— Thank you for accepting my advice that you are not a “porkpie-hat guy.”
— Thank you for always encouraging me to do better, that, like everyone else, there was potential in me.
— Thank you for inspiring me to pursue writing professionally.
— Thank you for being more than a teacher, but a true friend.
— Thank you for coming to lunch with me that day in November. It meant the world, and it was good to know you still wore the same goddamn tennis shoes.
— Thank you for accepting our birthday card, I’m sorry most of the people who signed were 1) made-up, or 2) C-list celebrities.
— Thank you for that hug the last day of classes senior year. I heard your voice crack and a small sniffle as you said, “Good luck man.” After two years with you, I knew I would never need it.
Mr. Thomas. Cody. I love you. And there’s no way I will ever forget you. Rest in peace, you magnificent, magnificent dork.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome, appreciated — and tax-deductible! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to “06880”: PO Box 744, Westport, CT 06881. Or use Venmo: @blog06880. Or Zelle: email@example.com. Thanks!)