Report: Drew Ferraro was thought to be suicidal before he jumped
Four notes fail to mention bullying, investigator says. Parents say they weren't informed son was suicidal.
A memorial with a portrait of Drew Ferraro at Crescenta Valley High School in February. Ferraro, a 15-year-old sophomore, jumped to his death during lunch from a school building. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / February 14, 2012)
Drew, 15, climbed to the roof a three-story building at the La Crescenta campus and jumped into a cement courtyard. Four suicide notes were found in his backpack nearby, authorities said.
Toxicology results included in the report also showed trace amounts of marijuana and anti-depressants in his bloodstream.
Dan Anderson, supervisor of the coroner's toxicology lab, said the level of marijuana represented “historical use,” meaning that it could have occurred days, weeks or even a month before Drew's death.
And the level of the anti-depressant, Citalopram, present in Drew's system was “consistent with therapeutic use,” he said.
The toxicology results and comprehensive autopsy report largely reflect statements by Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators that Drew had been battling depression.
“There was a report that he was thought to have been suicidal on the day before his death,” according to the coroner investigator's narrative included in the autopsy report. “His parents had been informed; however, [Drew] did not go home from school, and he had been attending school the day of his death.”
Drew's parents, John and Deana Ferraro, released a statement refuting that part of the report.
“We were not notified of him being suicidal the day prior or he would not have been at school,” the statement reads. “We know he suffered from anxiety and depression, which was being treated. Had we any indication we would have taken him to his therapist and kept him home until he was doing better.”
In interviews in the weeks immediately following Drew's death, the Ferraros were adamant in their assertions that bullying played a role in the suicide.
Their son documented harassment in journal entries that they read only after his death, they said, and classmates have shared additional information.
In one interview, Drew's mother, Deana Ferraro, said that since her son's suicide, “a lot of his friends have reached out and told us that it was a daily problem, and it was disturbing how brutal it was becoming.”
Law enforcement and school officials have maintained that they don't believe bullying was a factor, noting that none of the four suicide notes referenced anything of the kind.
“His suicide notes were very telling,” Los Angeles Sheriff's Lt. John Corina said in the wake of his department's investigation. “They didn't mention anything about being abused or being bullied. He gave a different reason for doing what he did.”
Authorities have declined to reveal the contents of the letters, and they were not included in the coroner's investigation.
According to the autopsy report, Drew's English teacher, Charlotte Greenway, identified his body following the jump. She told the coroner's investigator that the sophomore had poor attendance first semester, but that his attendance had improved.
Drew was neither an outcast nor extremely popular, and was not known to be troublesome in class, the coroner's investigator wrote.
“There was no known friction with other students, and when [Greenway] spoke privately with the decedent or disciplined him, he was always polite and cordial,” the investigator wrote.