Friends and members of the school community have expressed sorrow and disbelief following the apparent suicide of a Santa Monica High School freshman, who was remembered as a kind, compassionate young man.
Matthew Mezza, 14, was at a baseball practice at the high school at about 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14 when he abruptly left the area, police said. Minutes later, he reportedly jumped through a window on the 10th floor of the nearby Sheraton Delfina hotel to the street below, Santa Monica police Sgt. Jay Trisler said.
Mezza was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, Trisler said. Though it appears to be a suicide, the death was under investigation, he said.
School officials said the death of Mezza, who attended John Adams Middle School and Grant Elementary School, has shaken the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District community.
Mezza, who attended the Beth Shir Shalom synagogue in Santa Monica with his family for six years, was a member of its youth group and was involved as a teacher’s aid in the religious school, Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels said.
“He was a fabulous young man. He was intelligent, kind, compassionate and he was wanting to do things to change the world and make it better,” Comess-Daniels said.
The rabbi said that those who knew Mezza were not aware of any signs of problems and were shocked at his death.
“Something went horribly wrong,” said Comess-Daniels, who recalled how Mezza was always smiling.
“He touched so many people in only positive ways.”
School officials said district administration, principals, school staff and PTA parents worked over the weekend to prepare students, staff and parents for the opening of school on Jan. 18. School counselors and therapists from community mental health agencies were on school campuses Jan. 18 to provide grief counseling and other support. The district will continue to provide both short- and long-term support for those impacted by the tragedy.
Memorial services were scheduled Jan. 19 at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Santa Monica High School baseball team (Santa Monica High Baseball Diamond Club), 601 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, 90405; or the youth suicide prevention hotline (Teen Line: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, P.O. Box 48750, Los Angeles, 90048.