The tragedy of 14-year-old Santa Monica High School student Matthew Mezza’s recent suicide has prompted an outpouring of grief and giving in the local community.
Daniela Covel, outreach coordinator at Teen Line, a confidential hotline for troubled teenagers, said that more than 60 families have donated money to Teen Line in memory of Mezza. The contributions have come with “heartfelt” letters, she said.
Mezza, a student and player on his school’s baseball team, died on Jan. 14. His family suggested that donations be directed to Teen Line, which is affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and to the Santa Monica High School baseball team.
At Teen Line the donations will fund suicide-prevention outreach programs, allowing experts to visit schools around Los Angeles and give presentations on the subject.
“You basically settle any feelings; we try to make it so that no teens feels this is a way out for them, that suicide isn’t the answer,” Covel said.
Following Mezza’s death, Teen Line’s staff went to Santa Monica High School to conduct a “post-vention,” Covel said, “to [talk to] anybody who was worried, teens who were really affected … like his baseball team.”
Mezza was a volunteer in the religious school at Beth Shir Shalom synagogue. Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Beth Shir Shalom, who knew Mezza, described him as a “a wonderful human who was only about passion and compassion and doing the right thing.”