The federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology will investigate the deaths of four Polytech High School students since the New Year began, state and school district officials said.


The federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology will investigate the deaths of four Polytech High School students since the New Year began, state and school district officials said.

Polytech School District Superintendent Dr. Deborah Zych announced the involvement of both agencies in a statement released Monday.

The CDC monitors health, detects and investigates health problems and conducts research to enhance prevention, among other things, according to www.cdc.gov.

The AAS is a leader in the advancement of scientific and programmatic efforts in suicide prevention through research, education and training.

In addition, the state of Delaware is bringing in an expert from the University of Pennsylvania to address the post traumatic stress that Polytech faculty members are experiencing in the wake of four student deaths, Delaware Department of Health & Social Services spokeswoman Jill Fredel said Friday.

Delaware State Police last week began investigating the death of a 16-year-old Dover girl, state police Sgt. Paul Shavack said Thursday. The girl was a Polytech student.

The Polytech community also has lost two young men in mid February and a 16-year-old girl in January.

Zych said the entire Polytech  family was heartbroken by the recent tragedies.

“Our sincere condolences go out to the families, friends and everyone impacted by these tragic losses,” Zych said. “Each of the four deaths was reported by the State Police as an apparent suicide."

Counselors from the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services have been among those helping out at Polytech, Fredel said.

“Dr. Zych has asked for help from the state and we’re going to provide it,” Fredel said. “The state is working across departments to help Polytech. There’s something going on.”

Indeed, state counselors have set up shop at Polytech High School for more than a month, Zych said in her statement.

“During the course of this crisis, the district’s highest priority has been to provide counseling services to our students, parents and staff as well as to determine what steps can be taken to prevent any future tragedies,” she said.

To date, the four suicides at Polytech have appeared to be largely unrelated, Zych said. However, district and state officials have requested experts with the National Center for Disease Control and the American Association of Suicidology to further investigate the details surrounding each tragedy.

“This comprehensive assessment will analyze the many contributing factors for each suicide in an effort to determine if any, connections exist and what else can be done to prevent any future loss of life,” she said.