Berkeley High suicide victim’s family mourns

Michael Babe Hamilton. Courtesy: Family photo

Michael Babe Hamilton. Courtesy: Family photo

The family of the young man who died of an apparent suicide at Berkeley High School on Monday told Berkeleyside this week they were not sure how he had ended up there, and said he had been struggling in recent years with drug addiction.

Authorities identified the 21-year-old as Michael B. Hamilton, whose last known address was in Placerville. Police said Hamilton’s family is based in Oregon.

Hamilton’s mother, Erma, shared a photograph of her son with Berkeleyside on Thursday.

She said his family in Oregon is struggling with his death, and isn’t sure why he chose Berkeley High as the place to end his life.

She said he had been dealing with drug addiction over the past few years, adding, “He had an extremely hard hand of life. He was my shining star filled with some darkness!”

She also said Hamilton was one of six siblings, “five sons, one daughter. All are broken up. He was the fixer in our family. Full of laughter.”

Linda Davis, Hamilton’s aunt, said some family members had just reunited with the young man during Christmas.

“At this time, all I can say is we are confused & sad for our loss,” she wrote, via email. “He is not the type of person that would dramatize a high school. This family is truly for sorry for any pain and discomfort this may have caused. Please keep our family in your prayers.”

Authorities said the young man’s body was found Monday, while Berkeley High was closed for the Presidents Day holiday. Authorities believe his death, by hanging, was a suicide.

Berkeley High School Principal Pasquale Scuderi alerted parents to the death by email Monday night. His message included the following reminders and resources:

The very act of someone taking their own life on our campus will make for some anxious and unsettling questions from our students. Below are some very general starter resources to help parents and teachers facilitate discussion and help us respond to questions our kids might have.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/helping-children-cope/art-20047029

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/20/living/talking-kids-scary-news

Invariably there will be questions tomorrow, yet we cannot provide you much more than what we have already shared with you. The most salient and appropriate points we can share with kids are as follows:

  • A death did occur on campus over the long weekend
  • It does appear to have been a case of someone taking their own life
  • Police are still investigating
  • We are still in the process of determining what connections if any this person has to BHS
  • If you or any of your friends need support because of any anxiety or fear this event understandably brings up for you please see your counselor first
  • If more information comes to light that is relevant and appropriate to share, the administrative team will do so
  • If you know of anyone who is struggling with thoughts of taking their own life or hurting themselves or others, please inform an adult on campus or seek help in the BHS Health Center

This I know is difficult and unsettling news, yet we will of course manage it together with the safety and the well-being of our students at the forefront of our efforts.

Related:
Update: Man who committed suicide at BHS identified (02.17.14)

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  • Hyper_lexic

    Thanks for the respectful way of informing us.

  • Dale Allen Boland

    I would like to send my condolences to this family.

  • HM

    We are so sorry for the loss to this family. The weight at the high school was felt heavily this week.

  • Kristin Kilian Lobos

    This is heartbreaking. Blessings to his family. I am the parent of a young person in recovery from addiction. I was born in Berkeley in 1964. I wish our town could somehow address the fact that many young people come here from around the country to live on the street and use drugs. This effects our community and our own youth who grow up here. Why can’t we ever talk about it. I talk to them and try to hear there stories. I wish we had much more support for the young people who are struggling.

  • David

    Kristin, You are right. Berkeley is a magnet for a lot of people, including those struggling with addiction. I agree that we should support these folks and talk about it. I attended an event with my daughter last night at the high school and observed obvious drug dealing (hard stuff, not marijuana) just two blocks from campus. Berkeley can do better!

  • Abigail S

    I know this concept is a stretch for some people, but when I just saw that the Dalai Lama was coming to Berkeley High tomorrow, I thought of this young man, and that maybe his spirit (and the community’s) will be touched and transformed in some way by the gentle loving energy of tomorrow’s event. Blessings to his family during this painful time.

  • Erma

    Yes, my mother’s deepest wish (besides trading places) is for Michael’s spirit to be at peace. To know this would allow me not to feel so burdened. Thank you

  • emraguso

    We did just get word from the family about the memorial service, which will take place March 15 at Foothills Church in Stayton, Oregon.