Niskayuna to host series on suicide prevention, mental health; Follows death of high school student


Niskayuna residents are invited by the town to join a series of discussions over the next few weeks surrounding suicide prevention and behavioral and mental health.

The event, hosted by town board member Denise Murphy McGraw, comes after a Niskayuna High School student died by suicide Friday, according to the school district’s website.

“Our most sincere condolences and thoughts go out to the family and friends of our student,” said Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. in a statement posted on the school district’s website. “We know that our community will be processing this tragic news and coping with grief, and we want you to know that your school district is here for you and your family at this difficult time.”

The first event in the series will take place Thursday evening virtually. The forum will allow community members to come together to grieve over the death of the student and offer ways to find support through local mental health practitioners from Samaritan Counseling Center, according to a press release sent by McGraw. Participants will include Kelly Anderson, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist for individuals and families, and mother of three students in the school district, and Dan O’Brien, a resident psychotherapist at the counseling center. O’Brien has provided therapy to people looking to “process and move beyond depression, grief, anxiety, trauma, and self-esteem issues,” the release states.

Beginning this week, the Town of Niskayuna will host a series of community conversations on the topics of suicide and depression with nationally recognized behavioral health and suicide prevention organizations.

On April 7 residents can hear a presentation from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which talks about common risk factors, spotting warning signs, updated research on suicide prevention and what people can do to help prevent suicides from happening.

The final event in the series will be on April 10, where Jillian Gecewicz, the director of training at Northern Rivers Family Services, will hold a conversation with community members who have concerns related to the behavioral health challenges people are facing during the COVID pandemic.

All of the events are open to the public and free.

“I have been working for more than a decade to improve access to suicide prevention, behavioral health, and addiction treatment services and I am grateful to my colleagues from throughout the state who have come together to help me offer this important programming to the Niskayuna community,” McGraw said.

The school also has information to help students and families process the student’s death on the school’s website.

“Suicide is a very complicated act,” Tangorra Jr. said. “When someone takes their own life, it leads to a lot of questions, some of which may never be completely answered. We do know that suicide has multiple causes. The message that we need to send to everyone in our community right now, especially our children, is that help is always available. It’s really important if you or your child are not feeling well in any way to reach out for help.”

The superintendent also asked the community not to speculate on what happened, especially on social media.

“Similarly, we ask our whole community to be sensitive to the family’s privacy as well as the fact that even well-intentioned reaching out can be overwhelming for a family dealing with tragedy,” he said.

Attend the series

WHEN: 7 P.M., Thursday

WHAT: A Community Grieves – A virtual forum for community members to come together to process the tragedy that occurred this week and find support from local mental health providers.

To participate in the forum:

WHEN: 7 p.m., April 7

WHAT: Talk Saves Lives – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

To register for this session:

WHEN: 10 a.m., April 10

WHAT: Supports for a Caring Community – Northern Rivers Family Services

Registration information will be made available as soon as possible.

For more information about the series contact Niskayuna town board member Denise Murphy McGraw at [email protected]

Niskayuna School District resources: The school district has a number of resources, including the suicide prevention hotline and contact information for counselors listed on its website at

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline may be reached at 1-800-273-8255  or you cant text TALK to 741741.

Categories: News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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