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Elizabeth Ianelli, 39, and other former students of the Family Foundation School, a small boarding academy in rural Hancock, N.Y., planted a tree last year near where the school once operated to honor alumni who have died. The school closed in 2014.

When four former students from the same school died within months of one another in 2015, it seemed random, a morbid coincidence. Then the number kept growing. At least seven more died the next year.

Their fellow alumni, feeling more anxious with each death, started to keep count. By the time a classmate in Ohio died of a heroin overdose in October, the toll had reached at least 87.

Three weeks later, another fatal overdose in New Jersey: 88. Three more weeks saw another, a schoolteacher in the Bronx found dead in the faculty restroom. Ten days later, No. 90, in Minnesota.

“Damn,” a friend of the last victim wrote on Facebook. “This is outta control.”

All of the dead were alumni of the Family Foundation School, a small boarding academy in rural Hancock, N.Y. Since its opening in the 1980s, the school was an option of last resort for parents who sought help for their teenagers troubled by drug and alcohol abuse or behavioral issues. The students ate and bunked together, were dressed down and punished together. Some attempted to escape together, dashing through the woods to the nearest town and hiding in a McDonald’s bathroom.

And now, alone and back at their respective homes, they were dying, largely of drug overdoses and suicide, their names joining classmates on the list. Again, together.

The school closed in 2014 after a drop in enrollment that followed a self-described truth campaign by alumni telling of abuses there: solitary confinement, so-called “blackouts” of silence and isolation from others, the restraining of unruly students by wrapping them in rugs and duct tape. There were reports of physical abuse in complaints to state officials and the police.

In 2015, a year after the school closed, at least four former students died. The next year, there were at least seven. In a recent Facebook post, a man remembered hanging out with two friends from the school in 2016, following the funeral of another. Both those friends have since died.

Former students sought to find someone to blame, their first target being the school, only to come to terms with a more likely truth, that their dead classmates had been overcome by the sources of despair and addiction that took seed in their youth and brought them to the school in the first place.

It is unclear how many students attended the Family Foundation School over its roughly 30 years in business. A 1986 newspaper article about the school puts its student population at 34. The next decade, a 1998 yearbook — roughly the halfway point in the school’s existence — refers to that year’s graduating class of 30 as its largest ever. The school grew some in the years to come, alumni said.

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