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Princeton High School Freshman Dies

A ninth grader at Princeton High School took his own life in his home some time overnight Wednesday, law enforcement sources confirmed.

At the end of the second period Thursday morning, teachers read a brief statement about the teen’s death. Students who needed help dealing with the loss were encouraged to go to the school’s guidance office.

Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane sent an email to parents about the death, and a statement was posted on the district’s website Thursday afternoon.

“All of us in the Princeton Public Schools were deeply saddened to learn this morning of the passing of one of our freshman at Princeton High School. Our thoughts are with the student’s family and friends and with everyone affected by this tragic loss,” Cochrane wrote. “Staff at Princeton High School shared the news with students in classrooms this morning.”

Cochrane said guidance counselors and other trained professionals are available throughout the school and across the district to provide support for both students and adults. Officials have also posted a list of other resources about grieving on the district’s website.

“The entire district mourns this loss, and we recognize that many of our students may be affected by it,” Cochrane wrote. “We encourage parents to contact our schools if they feel their child may be especially affected and could use additional support.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) any time to be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center.

Editor’s Note: Covering a suicide is always a sensitive issue. We decided to report this story because suicide is such a critical public health issue in our community. We have covered far too many suicides over the past few years.  We feel that not discussing suicides and not reporting on them is not the answer. We have followed the guidelines of several groups on how to cover suicide responsibly. We know the teen’s identity, but we are not releasing it out of respect for the family, and because the student was a minor. Our condolences to the family and friends of this teen.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • DCfromNJ
  • Lynn Grillo

    What are those signs?

  • PrincetonResident

    I agree with the first part of your response, but would ask that you don’t include comments like the one in parenthesis. It comes off a bit snarky, and that is not necessary. We want to maintain a positive, constructive atmosphere, even when there is disagreement.

  • Robert Dana

    Krystal is the Brian Lamb of local news; & that’s high praise. Moreover, I can’t think of two dissimilar publications; i.e., Planet Princeton & The National Enquirer. (You might want to rethink that screen name of yours.)

  • Charelle Saint

    Not sure where you got your facts, but you are wrong. This was not sensationalized in any way. We need to talk to our kids about this to prevent it.

  • PrincetonResident

    I think this was responsibly reported and is helpful to the community.

  • herezaquarter

    Sensationalizing suicide is one thing, but responsible reporting letting the community know of a tragic death is something very different. Planet Princeton is clearly in the latter category. The news media pretending that such events do not occur serves only to ensure that more such events will occur. Understanding and dialogue are essential, and a respectful news story like this can lead to more honest discussion of the issues facing young teens, hopefully preventing future tragedies.

  • PrettySmart1

    This is at least the second time Planet Princeton has informed our community of the suicide of a cherished member, and I (for one) do not believe we need a home-town version of the National Enquirer. Coverage of this kind is not appropriate and certainly not helpful. Publicity about teen-age suicides has been shown to increase the likelihood of imitators, and it is obvious that this article will add to the family’s pain. The best course, for all of us, is simply to be kind whenever possible, and to reach out to, rather than ignore, others around us who seem distressed.

  • jeanne

    Please ask for help if you need to…no one needs to know and you can live through all nthe bad feeling with help. The family and friends left behind never get over the suicide death. Please get help..

    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) any time to be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center.

  • Regina Fulton

    Sorry for all the lives this incident will change. May you all find comfort and strength in each other. God bless you!

  • Adnan Shamsi

    Sadness. Love for this child and his parents and friends. Thank you for sharing that this was indeed a suicide, and I concur with Faith that it’s important for community to know this, and simultaneously have our community vigilant of others with ideations.
    It’s too simple for observers to suggest that this is simply an issue of mental illness, when here in Princeton this has become pervasive. Two of my friends in Princeton took their lives last year, one in her 20s at Princeton University, the other my fellow MBA alum in her 50s.
    And we know of the other suicides here in town, the first I heard of just when I moved into town some ten years ago, the mother of a special needs child, which touched me personally as a father of an autistic teen, at Princeton High School. And the suicides before and after this, in our town, 2011, 2012, 2014, before and after. We know that in nearby Philadelphia 11 students have killed themselves at UPENN.
    There need to be more safe sharing spaces, the type that exist at the Gratitude Yoga book club, and the side chapel on Sunday nights at Breaking Bread at Nassau Presbyterian, and at The Princeton Yurt community, and at the Men’s Sharing Circles around this town, and the classrooms at the Princeton Learning Cooperative – safe spaces exist – we just need to open these doors, and let others in. These are some of the bridges over troubled waters. And of course the services at Hi-Tops, Trinity Church, and NAMI-Mercer Harvest of Hope in October, where Princeton High School students from the NAMI Club volunteer excitedly.
    Some of us ask “What can we do?” How about this – the next time someone asks you “How are you?” respond honestly, so they can too…

  • Dan

    RIP Owen.

  • DCfromNJ

    Krystal, Thank you for reporting this, while respecting the privacy of the family. Having lost my best friend to suicide this past Spring, I cannot emphasize enough the importance knowing the early warning signs and when to act upon them. Our society needs to be as open about early detection of suicide as we are about cancer prevention.

  • Faith Bahadurian

    What a terrible start to the school year for all concerned. I agree that it’s important to report suicide whenever possible, and appreciate your sensitivity in handling this topic. If increased awareness saves one life it’s worth the momentary discomfort of the casual reader.

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