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Letter: Hoping and Healing in Hartford

To the Editor:

Hartford residents are invited to a community meeting on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Hartford High auditorium. Following the deaths of a 14-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy eight days apart, the school district and town have reached out to mental health professionals to facilitate a discussion. Both students lived within our community and attended our schools. This important meeting will address: recognizing trauma signs and depression in youth; recognizing our own vulnerability when facing depression and mental illness; how we build assets for youth; and where we go from here.

Many from the school district and Hartford professional agencies have come together to explore some of these questions. This meeting serves as a beginning step toward healing and understanding what took place. It is our hope that, together, we will take many courageous steps on a path of resiliency and strength for young people in Hartford and the Upper Valley. For this reason, we will also have resources available to better understand emotional health, depression and suicide.

One facilitator will speak specifically with students 12 and older, while another will speak with parents and community members. This 60- to 90-minute meeting will be very structured, focused and purposeful. Short notice doesn’t allow more notice to the broader community, so any help you can provide in sharing this invitation with others is appreciated. Child care will be provided for those 11 and younger.

On behalf of the 18 agencies that have been meeting to support our community during this tragic time, I can say that we look forward to seeing you Monday night. We are also working on a variety of meeting topics for the fall and will share dates and topics later this summer. To be added to our email list, please send your email address to: wecare.hartford@gmail.com.

If you live in a neighboring community and have been affected by the loss of either of these children or have suffered recent tragedy as a community, feel free to join us. Hope and healing for Hartford includes our neighbors and friends as well; we often need the strength of one another to take the next step on this journey.

Scott Farnsworth

K-12 Guidance & Counseling Director

Hartford School District

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Hartford — After the suicides of two local teenagers, the Hartford community is grasping with how to cope with the loss of two young people, as well as how to open a dialogue about warning signs and suicide prevention. Ashley Ellen DeMond, 14 of Hartford, died June 7. Her family has openly expressed that DeMond died by suicide and her …