Cable, Ohio — A bullied sixth grader in the rural community of Cable, Ohio, northeast of Dayton, killed herself on October 19, 2016, due to bullying at school.
The child, eleven-year-old Bethany Thompson, found a gun kept in the house and shot herself on the back porch as her stepfather slept in another room.
Bethany had been mercilessly bullied at Triad Middle School for at least a year because the removal of a brain tumor when she was three caused nerve damage, altering her appearance and leaving her with a “crooked” smile.
Triad School District Superintendent Chris Piper confirmed that the school was aware of the bullying prior to the child’s suicide.
“Last school year, district officials investigated a complaint raised by the student and appropriately resolved the same,” claimed Piper in a statement, which continues,
“As many school districts across the country are currently doing, the Triad Local School District is undertaking efforts to bolster anti-harassment and bullying training for both students and staff.”
But contrary to Piper’s statement, the school apparently had not resolved Bethany’s complaint.
Indeed, her mother, Wendy Feucht, complained to the principal on the Monday before Bethany’s death. The principal responded by telling her he was investigating the problem.
Because Bethany had attended schools in the Triad system for her entire scholastic career, her family was reluctant to transfer the child to a different school system. They thought she’d be better off in a setting where everyone knew the story of her brain cancer and treatment.
The child had seen a counselor to learn coping mechanisms and to deal with self-esteem issues, her mother reported.
Bethany and a friend had made anti-bullying posters that they took to school on Bethany’s last day of life, but school administrators refused to allow the posters to be used, her mother said.
The support of her friends couldn’t keep away Bethany’s tormentors, and some boys in her class were known to pick on Bethany regularly and relentlessly.
On Wednesday, after particularly painful confrontations with the school bullies, Bethany confided to her best friend that she “couldn’t take it anymore, and was going to take her own life,” according to a CNN report. By the time the friend’s father contacted Bethany’s mother, it was too late—Bethany was already dead of a single gunshot wound.
Bethany’s mother now regrets that she didn’t react with greater anger toward officials at her daughter’s school. She advises parents of bullied children to repeatedly alert school administrators and others about the problem:
“Call them, call them every day if you have to and eventually they’ll be tired of hearing from you and actually do something.”
“Something has to change, something is broken in the system and there are lots of different ways that this could have been handled.”
Bethany is remembered by her friends and family members as a generous, loving child who was full of life. She loved swimming, animals, and listening to music. “She had the softest heart,” her mother noted.
Her father, Paul Thompson, said,
“She was my princess, that’s my baby girl. Life revolved around her for me.”
Friends and family hope Bethany’s memory will encourage a zero-tolerance attitude toward bullying.
Her mother said,
“If this were the last life, that her death could stop it, she would be thrilled,”