The BAU is called to Somerville Academy, a military boys' school, when five students are found dead from hanging while on an unsupervised survival outing in the woods. The school's administration believes it to be a mass suicide as there is a supposed simple suicide note at the scene, with the words "we're sorry". These deaths follow a suicide hanging of another underclassman, Bailey Shelton, two weeks earlier. The one student tying to two sets of deaths together is Josh Redding, who is the missing sixth member of the survival outing, and in whose room Bailey was found hanging. As Somerville, which has worked on tradition and thus has bucked any modern technological conveniences, has ties to highers-up in the organization, Strauss accompanies the team to ensure both that the investigation goes smoothly and that there is as little media attention as possible. They initially believe that Josh reneged on the suicide pact, but then come to the conclusion that he killed the five other boys. The team faces obstacles in discovering information because of the lack of an electronic trail as well as an official unofficial code of silence both among the administration, led by the thirty year head of the academy, Colonel Ron Massey, and within the ranks of the students to protect the good name of the school at all cost. Slowly, the BAU discover that hierarchy of power, both among the administration and the students, may have led to the deaths. They have to find Josh before others who may be out to get him find him first. Meanwhile, an uncharacteristic action by Strauss while out in the field threatens the integrity of the investigation.