Friends, classmates and teammates of 17-year-old Burbank High football star Matthew Smyser, who died at his Shadow Hills home on Tuesday, describe him as anything but suicidal.
His football coach, Hector Valencia, tells the Los Angeles Times that Smyser was “positive,” “friendly” and “polite.” The coach also describes him to KTLA as “very popular on campus.” (Evidenced by an outpouring of love and support at BHS — all the students wore white today, in memory of the fallen junior.) A kid named David Gomez writes on Twitter that the last time he saw Smyser, “he was all happy.”
But according to the L.A. County Coroner's Office, when they received Smyser's body, examiners were told the death was a suicide.
The 17-year-old is listed in his MaxPreps player profile as a wide receiver and linebacker on the Varisty team at Burbank High.
Associated Student Body (ASB) leaders have scheduled a candlelight vigil for Smyser on campus tonight.
We are deeply saddened to report that Burbank High School officials were notified by the Los Angeles Mayor's Crisis Response Team that BHS student, Matthew Smyser, died at his home last night. We have not yet received official notification on the cause of death. Matthew was a junior at BHS, a member of the football team, and a well-rounded student. Matthew is and always will be a valued member of the BHS student body. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.
School and District personnel and support staff are available in the Library at BHS for students and staff who would like to reflect, grieve, and discuss their feelings about Matthew. This type of tragedy often leads to the need for parents and students to engage in thoughtful and heartfelt discussions about teen life and emotions. We have attached some material that can be very helpful for teachers and parents. Please print and review this information. We are also providing links to meaningful websites for more information, education, and support.
We all have stress and challenges in our lives and it is so important to know that we can come forward and ask for help and assistance. District personnel, school administrators, psychologists, counselors, and support staff stand ready to help in any way possible.
Griffen Kramer, another popular football star at nearby Thousand Oaks High, died last fall from a heroin overdose. And just last week, 17-year-old Salvador Preciado at Panorama High died from what his mom believes to be an alcohol binge.