As the Wilton community tries to process and grieve the death of a Wilton High School student–the third sudden death of a member of the school community in as many weeks–the town also begins to do what it has always done: help the family at the center of the tragedy.
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been created to support the Lucas family, whose son Jacques, died on Sunday, Oct. 4. It was set up by family friend Elizabeth Cameron, who posted the following message:
This fundraiser is to help the Lucas Family during this extremely painful time. They have suffered the tragic loss of their sweet son Jacques Lucas on Sunday, Oct. 4. Jacques was a sophomore at Wilton High School. He was a kind, smart, and very, very funny young man. He was close to his teachers and thought deeply about many complex subjects. He loved making films with his friends, hiking, swimming, and making up all sorts of games.
This unthinkable tragedy is difficult to understand and there is no good answer for why we lose such precious people in our lives. We are hoping that your donations can comfort the Lucas Family and help them with the expenses associated with saying goodbye to Jacques.
Thank you for helping us to pray for Jacques, his family, and for all those who loved him.
School and Town Support Offered As Well
In the days following Jacques Lucas’ death, school administrators have acknowledged the impact his loss has had on the students and staff, as well as on the wider community.
“This student’s death leaves us without words to express our grief or even attempt to understand this incredible loss,” Superintendent Kevin Smith wrote in a message sent to district families. “We are all impacted by this tragedy and understand that people respond in different ways,” he added. Intensifying the need for support was that the news came during a time the community was still reeling from the recent deaths of junior George DiRocco and longtime custodian Cesar Jimenez.
“How we cope with tragic news is likely much more difficult these days, because we have already been under so much stress due to the pandemic and other recent heartbreaking news and events,” Smith said.
The district has made crisis response teams available for ongoing support on-site at the high school, even bringing in outside professionals to help students and staff cope. School officials brought in a therapy dog to offer comfort to students and arranged for doctors from Silver Hill Hospital to help parents via Zoom webinars, both to share advice for speaking to children about suicide loss and to offer resources for parents also are navigating their own sense of confusion and loss.
Finally, in order to help parents and staff support our students, we, with the help of Wilton Youth Council, are providing the list of resources below. If you require additional assistance, please contact Kim Zemo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
With the help of the Wilton Youth Council, the school also provided links to online resources.
Kids in Crisis 24-hour hotline for immediate support: 203.661.1911 or 211 for mobile crisis support.
Coping with grief and trauma after suicide
My child has lost someone to suicide, The Jed Foundation
Supporting Children and Teens After a Suicide Death, The Dougy Center
Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers, The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Teens and suicide: What parents should know, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Talking to teens: Suicide prevention, American Psychological Association
Preventing Youth Suicide, National Association of School Psychologists
In addition, Wilton Youth Council provided additional assistance, especially for members of the community who do not have a student in the Wilton Public School district but who also may be struggling. Genevieve Eason, the WYC executive director, allowed us to share the information she released on Tuesday.
“If your child does not attend Wilton High School, other sources of support include your pediatrician and the mental health staff at your child’s school. Wilton residents may also contact Sarah Heath, the director of Wilton’s Department of Social Services at 203.834.6238 or [via email].
Facts about adolescent suicide and youth warning signs
“When a young person dies by suicide, it can leave us wondering why. We often look for reasons like academic pressure, bullying, or social media use, but it is important to understand that suicide is complicated and involves the interplay of multiple risk factors. Most people who die by suicide have a mental health condition, which may or may not have been diagnosed.
“If you are concerned about your child, visit the Youth Suicide Warnings Sign website for a list of warning signs and guidance on how to respond.
Where to get help
“If you or a loved one is struggling, please reach out for help.
- Your school’s mental health team or your family doctor can refer you to local therapists.
- rtor.org is a local resource that can help you to find a mental healthcare provider.
- Local suicide loss support groups online.
- If a child in your care is experiencing an emotional or behavioral crisis, EMPS Mobile Crisis Intervention Services has mental health professionals who can respond immediately. To access CT Youth Mobile Crisis Services, call 2-1-1.
- Kids in Crisis 24-hour Helpline: 203-661-1911
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.8255
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741