Sat, Jun

Student Suicides at Harvard-Westlake.  No Coverage in a One Newspaper Town


GUEST COMMENTARY - An acquaintance recently contacted me with a rumor that 2 students attending the high school I graduated from, Harvard-Westlake (HW), had recently committed suicide, and asking me if I had heard about that. So, I spent several hours on google and here is what I found out. Yes, that's true. One was a boy and one was a girl. Both were enrolled at the Upper School (HW has two campuses because it was a merger of Harvard and Westlake in order to become a coed school). Both suicides involved the use of guns. One occurred in March and the other in April. There was also a suicide of a good looking, academically accomplished, and athletic HW Alum in October, a Senior at Brown. And, finally, I already knew about the suicide of HW Alum Steve Bing in the middle of 2020, during the Covid Depression/Loneliness Era, a time of increasing suicide. 

I graduated from Harvard Boys School or Harvard HS, one year before it became coed by merging with one of our sister schools, Westlake. I have been active in local politics and have run for office...hence my continuing frustration with the dominance of the LA Times in Los Angeles. LA Weekly used to be a strong news source...no more. The Daily News is a shell of what it once was, publishing a lot of CNS (City News Service) wire reports, although there has been recent improvement. Recently, the Times won the Pulitzer Prize, and I was left wondering: How long did the Times sit on the story/scandal?

Why didn't the Pulitzer go to Jon Peltz? Would the Times have released the audio if Peltz had not? Would the Times have run the story when they did if they didn't know that others were gonna publish on the same day? 

Harvard-Westlake is the most prestigious school in the City of LA, btw, so sitting on the story of the suicides is not right. It's also not good for preventing other suicides. If you hide suicide, if you shame it, if you leave it to whispering and rumors, that's not healthy. What is best is to openly discuss it.

Perhaps if the March suicide had been reported and discussed openly (or even the 2 previous suicides by the accomplished Alums of the school), the April suicide could have been prevented. It is not healthy to shame Depression. Julia Wick, who worked on the HW Chronicle (the school's paper), just won a Pulitzer at the LA Times. The HW Chronicle did not mention suicide when discussing the deaths of these students/alums. Is that what we're teaching our future journalists? To hide the truth. Coincidentally, the Owner of the LA Times, Patrick Soon-Shiong, is a HW Parent. His son Luke graduated from HW in 2014. It is wrong to suppress the news. 

It has been reported that Dr Soon-Shiong's daughter, Nika, influenced the paper's endorsements (and its reporting) during the last LA City Election cycle. I remember a particularly unethical endorsement of Lindsey Horvath by the Times Editorial Board, which did not mention that she was buddies with Nika, that she had put Nika on the WeHo Public Safety Commission, or that Nika and Horvath both supported defunding law enforcement. That last very important position was not mentioned in the endorsement because it would have lost Horvath votes. The Times also endorsed Katy Yaroslavsky, who is now working under the radar to dismantle no camping zones in the City of LA's 5th Council District and throughout the Very Large City of LA (which has 15 council districts, each one of which is the size of a city)...she just voted against new no camping zones in Bob Blumenfield's Woodland Hills hood. She'll keep no camping zones for schools; she's not that stupid. But she's endangering us by attempting to get rid of all the non-school no camping zones that have been created...for good public safety reasons. Seemingly on a quest to repay a favor to Nika. 

(Yuval Kremer is a former ballot candidate for Mayor of LA (not a fan of HW Alum and former Mayor Garcetti) and LA County Supervisor (ran against Sheila Kuehl, Katy's former boss.  The opinions expressed by Yuval Kremer are his and not those of CityWatchLA.)

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