A Southampton High School junior, in the midst of leaving the district and moving to East Hampton with his family, took his own life on Monday night, rocking the school community on Tuesday.
Emilio Padilla-Berrezueta, 18, who lived in Tuckahoe, had advised the school district that Monday was his last day at Southampton High School, because his mother recently got a job in Montauk that offered on-site housing, according to an e-mail that Southampton School Superintendent Dr. J. Richard Boyes sent out to teachers Tuesday morning.
According to East Hampton Town Police Chief Eddie Ecker, police responded to a residence on West Lake Drive in Montauk on Monday night at 10:40 p.m. He said police are still investigating the death.
Emilio had two sisters, one who graduated from Southampton High School in 2011, and another who transferred to East Hampton High School last week.
In his email, Dr. Boyes asked teachers not to speculate on the reasons behind the suicide, “out of respect for Emilio and his family.”
Southampton High School teachers were asked to read a statement to inform students about the tragedy and the importance of suicide prevention.
“A suicide death presents us with many questions that we may not be able to answer right away,” the statement read. “Suicide is a very complicated act. It is usually caused by a mental disorder such as depression, which can prevent a person from thinking clearly about his or her problems and how to solve them. One thing is certain: There are treatments that can help. Suicide should never, ever be an option.”
Dr. Boyes said the district sent several staff members to support the family in their home on Tuesday. Spanish-speaking counselors and staff from Southampton, East Hampton and Tuckahoe schools were available to support students and their families. Emilio’s classmates, friends and teachers were informed privately.
“Emilio had joined the district in ninth grade,” Dr. Boyes said in an open letter to the community on the school’s website. “He was well-liked and had many friends, especially within the Hispanic/Latino community. Emilio was very artistic and had a passion for drawing and painting. He had a great sense of humor as well. The district is truly saddened by this terribly tragic news and many are deeply affected by this loss. The Southampton Board of Education and Administration extends their deepest sympathy and prayers to Emilio’s family and friends as they grieve the loss of their loved one.”
It is the second student suicide in less than two months on the East End. David H. Hernandez, a 16-year-old junior, of East Hampton killed himself on Saturday, September 29. Friends and family have speculated that he took his life after being bullied over his sexual orientation.