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Matanzas High Community Awakens to Suicide of One of Its Own, 9th Grader Dalton Coxwell

| December 19, 2013

Dalton Coxwell. (Daviana Campbell)

Dalton Coxwell. (Daviana Campbell)

Last Updated: 3:42 p.m.

Moments after 8 a.m. today, Matanzas High School Principal Chris Pryor announced to the student body that one of its own, Freshman Dalton Coxwell, 15, had taken his own life the night before.

“We met with some of the students we knew were close to him, and then we made a general announcement,” Pryor said. The school also issued an automated call to Matanzas families informing them about the loss and advising about the availability of grief counselors.

Pryor again spoke to the school after 1 p.m. to announce a service in the school’s Pirate Theater at 6:30 p.m. Friday, to be followed by a tribute to Dalton in the courtyard. Dalton’s family members reportedly visited the school today.

Coxwell hung himself from a tree in his yard Wednesday, according to a police report. His father found him.

A deputy was dispatched to the student’s Forsythe Lane home in Palm Coast to find Dalton’s father, Phillip, performing CPR on his son. The deputy took over CPR until Dalton was placed in a Flagler County Fire Rescue ambulance and taken to Florida Hospital Flagler. Dalton was pronounced dead at 5 p.m. Police found only a cell phone at the foot of the tree.

It is the first instance of a student suicide in Matanzas’s history. The school opened in 2006. “We had a student die of cancer, but this is completely different,” Pryor said.


Before the school day began the district had dispatched Acting Superintendent Jacob Oliva and other administrators, including Diane Dyer and Katrina Townsend, director of student services, to the school, along with additional counselors and school psychologists.

Oliva spent the morning at the school before, on a day of grief, having to go to the funeral of a colleague, Bruce Preece, the district’s transportation director. Oliva started with breakfast duty at the school. “Obviously there were some students that were upset,” he said. They went to speak with counselors. But for the most part the day went on, and “learning was still going on in the classrooms.”

Dalton’s Facebook page was filling up rapidly with messages of grief and sympathy from fellow students and others, drawing the picture of a well-liked student whose sense of humor stood out and who’d made lasting impressions on those who knew him, even those who knew him briefly or a long time ago. Coxwell was born on July 27, 1998, and had attended Indian Trails Middle school before Matanzas. He had also played football briefly at Matanzas.

Pryor said the school’s dean’s office had not received reports of issues that indicated Dalton had been the victim of bullying, but that the school would be looking into any such possibility. Pryor added that while Matanzas’s last school day before the Christmas and New Year’s break is Friday, the school may arrange for student counseling during the break. That information will be provided when it becomes available.

Later in the afternoon Oliva specified that during the Christmas break, the school itself–as with other schools in the district–will remain open next Monday and Friday, and every day of the following week except on Jan. 1, so that any students or parents who wish to see a counselor are welcome to go to the school during regular school hours.

Colleen Conklin, the school board member who a few weeks ago held two town online town hall meetings to address issues surrounding the suicide of Rebecca Sedwick, the Lakeland middle school student who’d been bullied, posted the following note on her Facebook page:

“At this point I know you’ve heard about the student we lost last night. We have counselors at some of the schools this morning. I’ve been watching Facebook posts by some of our students and I would ask that we all monitor our kids social media. Facebook, twitter, instagram and above all else ask.fm. This was no one’s fault! Emotions are running high and I would ask that if you have teens/tweens at home that may have been impacted that we spend some time talking to them about it. Words hurt, the sting left doesn’t disappear once they are said. They may live with someone forever. We all need to be reminded of that. Kindness and love is needed. Please keep this student and his parents and family members in your thoughts and prayers.”

Daviana Campbell, 14, a friend of Dalton’s who’d known him several years before she left Palm Coast for Miami Beach in August–she provided the portraits below–was asked to describe her friendship with him. “Dalton,” she replied, “was the most caring, funny guy I knew. Not only with me, but with everybody, he always found a way to make you laugh. If you knew him, your happiness was always his priority. I think that is what is so shocking, because if you look at all the pictures, you never see one without a smile on his face. He was compassionate, and respectful. He would help my mom and cut the lawn and my mom would thank him by cooking his favorite food or by treating him to a movie with us.”

Dalton had actually helped Daviana’s family load the moving truck in August.

She added: “We just have to make his death count. It means everybody whose life he touched need to change inside themselves. We need to be tuned into our friends, we need not to make enemies and truly find within ourselves our own goodness to share to honor him. Dalton was kindhearted and friendly and even when he wasn’t it wasn’t for long. Forgiveness was always within his spirit and he never was mad for long. Right now we all need to get through the next few days and then we can deal with what we need to do to keep others from feeling so low that they think death is the only answer<3 Everybody will miss him."

Dalton Coxwell

Dalton Coxwell


(© Daviana Campbell)

(© Daviana Campbell)


(© Daviana Campbell)

(© Daviana Campbell)


Daltn Coxwell was 'well liked,' according to his principal, and popular. (© Daviana Campbell)

Daltn Coxwell was ‘well liked,’ according to his principal, and popular. (© Daviana Campbell)


(© Daviana Campbell)

(© Daviana Campbell)

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52 Responses for “Matanzas High Community Awakens to Suicide of One of Its Own, 9th Grader Dalton Coxwell”

  1. Donna De Poalo says:

    My heart weeps. :-(

  2. Vi Vincent says:

    Such a sad story … Condolences to the Family and Friends of Dalton, sending prayers to the family for some kind of answers that will help them with their grief … so very sorry!!

    • Brooke says:

      that makes me cry man my bro knew him all my prayes go to him and the family..i am so sorry for the dad to find him dead.my heart akes for him..
      RIP DALTON EVERYONE MISSES YOU SEE YOU IN HEAVEN..
      BROOKE

  3. Initialjoe says:

    I wonder what would cause such a young teen to feel so hopeless that he would have to kill himself. My heart breaks for his friends and family.

  4. Miller says:

    Very sad that children feel they have to do this to avoid being bullied. Where are the teachers/counslers? Why are they just turning their heads in such a problem? We trust them to protect our kids from things like this and they dont. The school board needs to step up and take care of their children. Bullying didnt happen when I was young because we took care of the bullies ourselves by approaching then face to face and letting them know that its uncalled for. Very sad! Prayers for the family :(

    • OhCool says:

      He wasn’t bullied, you never know whats going on in peoples head. Don’t blame other people, he took his life.

    • Colleen Conklin says:

      I am not aware of any reports that of this beautiful child was being bullied. He was outgoing, had a large social circle and was a fairly popular kid which makes this all seem even more surreal. My comments were directed to others who were placing blame on different people. We don’t know why Dalton felt so desperate to take his own life. We may never know. We are doing our best to provide support services to our students and staff. We will all have to watch our children closely over the next few weeks and beyond. We will never know what someone else is dealing with inside and should meet each person with much kindness, love and compassion. This is an exceptionally difficult time. My heart goes out to everyone impacted by Dalton’s loss especially his mom, dad and family.

    • Daviana Campbell says:

      Dalton was not bullied. Dalton was loved. He was obviously dealing with sadness.

    • Nancy N. says:

      “Bullying didnt happen when I was young because we took care of the bullies ourselves by approaching then face to face and letting them know that its uncalled for.”

      Kids have been cruel to each other since the beginning of time. It’s just that with the passage of years, the fog of time gives us rose colored glasses about the days of our youth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bullying was not mentioned, so dont speculate

  5. a mom says:

    I understand the story needs to be told, however I feel it’s a bit raw to describe his actual death.
    He was a handsome young man, let’s focus on why and not how he passed.

    I send my love and strength to the family and all of his peers that have been left to wonder why

  6. tulip says:

    It’s heart wrenching to think that Dalton and other teens who are in some sort of despair don’t talk to either the parents or another person about his or her feelings. Perhaps someone could’ve helped him decide not to do such a permanent and tragic thing.

    Very very sad.

  7. Don Wildoner says:

    Why ? My heart goes out to Dalton’s family & friends !!

  8. bb says:

    i was very close to him and ive been crying every since i found out!

  9. Geezer says:

    The kid must have been in a lot of pain and turmoil.
    He didn’t have the experience to know that life can smooth out.

    I am very saddened.

  10. Concerned says:

    If you have depression it sometimes reaches the point you just want to stop the pain…no reason is needed to cause this disease. So very sad for this young man and his family.

  11. he was like my little brother says:

    I’ve loved dalton since the day I met him I Wish this wasnt true I wish he was still here with us may god be with him he is one of his best angels now I love u sweet boy u were so young you may be gone but u will never be forgotten

  12. Just A Girl says:

    As a parent of three grown children, I CANNOT even imagine the pain his parents may be experiencing. My heart goes out to the family, friends, student body and community. This IS a community issue! Praying for all of those connected to this incredible young, tortured and very young man.

  13. Been There says:

    It is very important to say those good things that come to mind and let those around us, old and new, even strangers, know they matter.

    One small word of kindness can make all the difference not just in someone’s day, but their LIFE.

    I’ve been on both sides of this… and seen good people let go, like beautiful Dalton.

    May the Lord receive him with his tender mercy, and provide comfort to all who knew him or are touched by this act in this time.

  14. Becky Covington says:

    Don’t know Dalton or his family, but as a parent this just broke my heart. What a handsome young man. Our kids have so much thrown at them through media and social pressure at school. Someone mentioned depression, yes it’s a horrible sickness, and if adults are overcome by the dark thoughts how could a child understand? Especially when the portion of their brain where cognitive reasoning takes place isn’t even fully developed… sometimes till they are in their 20’s. Jesus Christ help his family as they have to walk through this terrible tragedy and send friends who know how to be there for them.

  15. jennifer Lopez says:

    Dear God, Please give that family the strength to overcome such a HUGE loss. This type of death is awful.
    I was 13 Years old when my old brother hung himself from a tree. He walked by my and patted me on the head as he walked by me. One hour later, the police came to our house to let us know what had happened.
    He takes your breath away

  16. Carol Fisher says:

    I know the pain his family and friends are going through, and my heart bleeds for them. My 21 year old daughter died by suicide one year and four days ago. I know how they are feeling, and I’m so so sorry that they are in this place. The thing that helped us the most was understanding that it is important to let people help you in any way they can, and to remain open. And time helps. And grief is different for every person, and different every day. Anyone that knows this family, please BE THERE for them. Whenever they need you. Understand that they are now and will always be different people than the people they were yesterday. Forever changed. I hope to GOD that the family knows God, because that will help. I am happy to help in any way. I will reach out to them as soon as they have had a bit of time to let this sink in.

  17. Makayla says:

    R.I.P. Dalton you were a really great guy. You meant so much to a lot of people<3 we love you<3 Rest in paradise<3

  18. Anonymous says:

    I am so sorry to read of this. My prayers and condolences to everyone who loved this young man and all who mourn his loss. I am sure he will be missed. Sharing your feelings, as well as remembering and celebrating the good times, might help.

  19. confidential says:

    Sometimes parents need to read their kids postings in their social internet media without feeling intrusive. Signs of despair are shown there sometimes. God is cradling Dalton now.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I get chills reading the posts and am so saddened. I pray for this family as I know their hearts are aching. This is so sad and so difficult to understand.

  21. Kim Williams says:

    I lost a friend to suicide when she was 17 and I was 18. It is now 40 years later and I still think of her. I can’t imagine what this boy’s parents are going through. My heart breaks for them.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I lost a family member my stepdad from suicide and could only imagine what the parents are going through. My thoughts and prayers go out to Dalton’s family i know how hard it is having to set up funeral arrangements and everything. I don’t know Dalton I attend another school in Palm Coast. Stay strong about it!

  23. Saddened says:

    I am so heart wrenched over this………….from others who knew him there was no apparent “warning signs”.I know deep in my heart how what a lonely place this kid must have been in. I feel so very sad for my community as on some level this touches us all.

  24. orphan says:

    What a beautiful boy!
    How in the world could someone with so much going for him feel that there was no one there to HELP him?
    I understand the “bullying” thing, if that WAS the problem. What I DON’T understand is how in this world could a person with so much in his/her favor decide to just exit. He didn’t realize that this was just a glitch in his personal life. How could he? He hasn’t lived long enough!
    Whatever Dalton’s reasons were for his decision-no matter what- I want to send my warmest and heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. We lost another treasure. :( rip Dalton.

  25. Ashley martin says:

    R.I.P prayers go to your family and close friends. hearing everything is so shocking and it breaks my heart. i can’t stop crying knowing that you gone. but up above they gained a new amazing angle. R.I.P you will be missed.

  26. Beverly says:

    My heart goes out to Dalton’s family and friends. What a tragedy. Prayers are with you

  27. Eileen McCoach Daley says:

    Bless, O God of eternal life, all who have died by their own hand. Grant them peace from their inner turmoil and the compassion of your love. Comfort those who mourn their loved ones. Strengthen them to face the questions of pain, the guilt and anger, the irreparable loss. Help us to reach out in love to others who prefer death to the choices of life and to their families who grieve. Amen.

  28. PCresident says:

    This is such a horrible, horrible tragedy, and no one can know exactly what the family is experiencing because grief is like physical pain, everyone’s threshold is entirely subjective. My sincerest condolences.

    Mrs. Conklin, I commend you for your response and note this is exemplary in regards to your response to this matter. You may or may not be aware, but seeing how active an elected official is to an event of this magnitude and being actually dedicated to the follow up is reassuring to know an elected official is a parent before they are an elected official. I am not using this blog response to solicit support for your campaign (I am not trying to be rude with that statement; I just wanted to extend appreciation towards your dedication on this topic). I don’t think the platform for any campaign for that matter should be an event of this magnitude, however, thank you.

  29. J.O. says:

    Very sad my daughter was a friend of his and has for the 1st time been learning how to deal with a loss of a friend. As a parent of the same age child , I am so sorry . God bless.

  30. Girl says:

    Such pain – so young, may you rest in peace

  31. Anonymous50 says:

    I remember Dalton as a younger kid who was always riding his skateboard; he was just a young boy enjoying himself never seeming to bother anyone. Years later it was hard to imagine that that little boy had grown so much and was now in high school. I can’t imagine the depth of his inner pain and my heart grieves not just for him but for his family and friends who now have to make their way without him. May God provide you all with his comfort and grace.

  32. ted bundy says:

    RIP Dalton…JESUS loves you!!!

  33. wake up says:

    Word on the street is that he was having girlfriend issues….. Bottom line, Parents KNOW your kids..Talk to them..spend time with them..learn about their lives, guide them..ask them how their day was. Why he did this REALLY doesn’t even matter.

    • Shocker says:

      Wake up… go back to sleep!
      This is a very sad moment in time… for everyone… there is NO ONE to blame!
      Everyone, adults included, really need to stop saying things, suggesting things, that others are at fault before we have another tradgey on our hands. THEN we will have others to blame.
      PLEASE… Depression does not happen over night. sucidal thoughts, ideations and attempts are long in the running. they do not just “happen”. this young man was in pain. Please let him rest now. Let his family learn how to heal. As well as his friends.

  34. Bill says:

    How sad I have a son the same age and in that school. Dont know or understand what could drive such a young man to do this?? My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends they wil be forever tormented by the thoughts of what did i miss or could have done/said to save this young man.

  35. JL says:

    My heart goes out to this family. May God wrap this family in his arms and help them through this time. I can’t begin to imagine the heartbreak. I have 3 sons and 1 deals with depression from time to time. I worry all the time about this happening. Children lock up their fears, even to the most loving parents. No one knows what is in the minds and hearts of all teens. I pray he is at peace and that his parents can find a way to eventually move past this horrible tragedy. Although it will take time. God bless this family and his friends.

  36. Jaydon My True Little Niggah says:

    Dalton was my bestfirend everybody said that they were his and he was theres but no i actrully was his best friend i lived four houses down fro him he was with me every day i remeber everything we h was always there for me and i was always there for him but he didnt even bother to come to me or my brother or sister to help him i only wish i went with our friend korey that day to help him not be deperesed i love him he was my brother i never had he was my mom and dads third son i miss him and he is missed by many but not forgotn if you did know him so well u call him Doe Doe not dalton

  37. Ally says:

    I only meet Dalton once, but i know everyone who knew him cared for him. My heart & Prayers go out to his family, i can’t imagine how they feel. Im so sorry for your loss.

  38. sad says:

    why?dalton you were so loved by so many but why did you kill your self see you in heaven…. wish you were here wait up in heaven for me please

  39. KMedley says:

    Our son knew this young man and was shocked and saddened to hear the news. Our prayers are with Dalton. We send our sincere condolences to his family along with a warm hug. We cannot begin to imagine their pain.

  40. Caitlin says:

    I did not know Dalton. However, many of my friends did, and hearing about him and all that he did while he was here makes me want to be remembered like he is! He will truly never be forgotten! Everyday I passed him I the hallways, he was always smiling and laughing! Matanzas and his family lost such an amazing person, but Heaven gained such a gorgeous soul! I am incredibly sorry for the family and friends grieving, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family!

  41. Deanna says:

    I didn’t know him but my heart feels so saddened and touched by this story. All my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. May you all forever hang onto the awesome memories and smiles he leaves here with you. I am so sorry for your pain.

  42. Maryjo says:

    To Carol Fisher…{{{HUGS}}} to you…and thank you so much for having the ability to post and let everyone know they are not alone. Thank you.
    To the family and friends of this young man… may you all find peace in your hearts quickly. As Carol has shown you.. you are NOT alone.

  43. JBOD says:

    Did Not Know This Young Man or His family, But It Just Breaks My Heart & I Can’t Even begin To Imagine His Dad’s Heartache Finding Him!!! OUR PRAYERS go OUT To ALL His Family & Friends !!!To Anyone Who Reads This Just Keep in Mind If Ever Something Is Bothering You, Talk About it To Someone, No Matter How Overwhelming or Personal it May Be To DO !!! HELP is Always Right Around The Corner !!!! Rest in Piece Dalton, & God Bless You Miss Carol Fischer !!!!!!!!

  44. jp says:

    Take it from me kids, all shall pass-live! All bullies become nothing-live! One should never die until they have set foot on the beaches of Spain-live! Partied in Rome-Live! Octoberfest Munich-live! Walked the Champs- Élysées -live!. Night life Tokyo-Live! This little town is nothing, more to see-Live

  45. Mariah Novotny says:

    Dalton was such a sweet, kind-hearted boy. In 7th grade me and Dalton had dated for a couple months and believe me, that boy sure did know how to make a girls heart smile. We were friends for many years after that. He has touched many hearts, and impacted many lives. he will surely be missed

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