A young Ohio girl survived brain cancer — only to take her own life after she was bullied about her appearance and apparently saw no way out, according to her mother.
Bethany Thompson, 11, got off the school bus at her stop in Cable, Ohio, on Oct. 19. She walked to her back porch and fatally shot herself, her mom, Wendy Feucht, told The Columbus Dispatch.
In a society that values physical appearance and is increasingly critical of others, children are often the victims of those who accept nothing but perfection — and taunt others who don’t “measure up.”
Bethany Thompson revealed to a close friend what she planned to do, Feucht told the paper. “She told her she loved her and that she was her best friend forever, but that she was going to kill herself when she got home,” said Feucht — who is certain the bullying led to the girl’s death. A brain tumor removal after a brain cancer diagnosis eight years ago left Bethany with a “crooked smile,” said her mother.
The girl’s father, Paul Thompson, said it was that smile that kids at school allegedly bullied his daughter about that day. “I think that’s why she took [her life],” Thompson told The Dispatch. “She was my baby girl,” he continued, heartbroken. “Everybody knew she was my princess. And she was a spoiled one.”
Thompson and Freucht were divorced. Thompson, the dad, had custody of Bethany.
Feucht said her daughter’s friend told her a group of classmates had picked on the girl relentlessly on Wednesday.
In a development that must have crushed both parents’ hearts, Feucht later learned her daughter had created anti-bullying posters — but a school administrator reportedly prevented her from displaying them because they “weren’t positive.”
“I’m sure she felt pretty defeated,” Feucht said.
Superintendent Chris Piper told The Dispatch he is trying not to guess what caused Bethany Thompson to feel suicidal. “Suicide is a complicated act. We’re trying to find the cause,” Piper said. “There’s no single thing that says ‘this is what led to it.'”
Piper said the girl was bullied last year, but declined to provide details. He reportedly said the matter had been resolved.
If anyone fears suicide among those they know and love, here is some helpful guidance from Bullyingstatistics.org:
1.) Take all talk or threats of suicide seriously. Don’t tell the bullied person he or she is wrong or “has a lot to live for.” Instead, get immediate medical help.
2.) Keep all weapons and medications away from anyone at risk of suicide. Remove these items from the house, or make sure they are securely locked away.
3.) Parents should encourage their teens to talk about any bullying they see or are experiencing. It may be embarrassing for kids to admit they are the victims of bullying — and most kids don’t want to say they’ve been involved in bullying. Tell victims it’s not their fault they are being bullied, and express love and support. Get professional help if the bullying is serious.
4.) Parents should insist on being included in their children’s friend groups on social networking sites so they can see if someone has posted mean messages about them online. Text messages may be more difficult to know about, so parents should keep open communications with their children about bullying.