Delaware County in Shock Over 14-Year-Old Boy’s Suicide
A heartbreaking end to a heartbreaking week in Philadelphia, with news that 14*-year-old Skyler Baffa of Broomall, Delaware County, committed suicide on Thursday.
Baffa was a student at the Paxon Hollow Middle School in Broomall. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicides by children 14 and under are extremely rare.
A mother of another Paxon Hollow student who was friends with Skyler said that bullying was a factor. Here is what she wrote on Facebook:
He took his own life because of bullying and other circumstances. My heart is breaking for the many kids that are affected by the loss of this young man. I promise it gets better. I swear it’s not like this forever… My heart breaks for his family. My heart breaks for my daughter and her friends because they will never understand why. Please talk to your children, let them know they matter, and hug them tight.
Paxon Hollow principal Steve Subers sent the following note to parents:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
This letter is sadly to inform you that a student, Skyler Baffa, passed away on Thursday, December 18. It appears that Skyler took his own life.
We have shared this information with our students so that they are aware of what has happened. We had additional counselors at school today to help meet the emotional needs of students and staff who have been upset by this tragedy.
Counselors, teachers and other support personnel will continue to be on hand to assist our students, staff and parents as long as needed. Please call the school if you would like assistance.
I urge you to discuss this event with your child and explain that suicide is not a positive response to life’s challenges. Please explain that experts tell us most people who attempt or complete suicide have many emotional problems for which there is help available. Emphasize the importance of people seeking help when needed.
The death of a peer may affect children in a variety of ways, depending upon how well they knew Skyler as well as their prior experiences with death and loss. Please see the attached information sheet for more information regarding suicide loss. This is an important time to listen to your child intently. If your child seems to need to talk, answer their
questions simply, honestly, and repeatedly, if necessary.
Included on the information sheet are local resources that are available should this event trigger any extreme reactions to your child or someone else you know. Please advise us if you have serious concerns about the effect this event is having on your child or any of your child’s friends.
This is a time we must be ears and eyes for each other as we seek to nurture and pprotect the children in our midst and teach them how to seek help when it is needed.
Please join us in mourning the loss of Skyler, while not glamorizing, and thereby positively reinforcing, the method by which he died. We must reinforce positive options our children can employ when life is difficult as well as how they can access these options.
I am including information about suicide and some talking points that can be helpful to you in discussing this issue with your child. I am also including a list of community resources should you feel that your child would benefit from additional assistance. If you need immediate assistance, call the Delaware County Crisis Connections Team or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Skyler.
Dr. Steve Subers
*The original version of this story reported that Skyler was 12. A family member later provided his correct age in the comments.
For confidential support if you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Learn about the warning signs of suicide at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.