April 15, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
25°F

Bullying not a factor in suicide of Medina Twp. boy, 14

By Kiera Manion-Fischer and Steve Grazier

MEDINA TWP. — The Claggett Middle School community is struggling to cope with the suicide death of a 14-year-old student Tuesday morning.

Medina Schools Superintendent Randy Stepp sent an email to parents in the school district within hours of the report of the boy’s death.

Claggett parents were notified with phone calls.

“Everyone who knows of it are saddened by the news,” he said. “Those who are close to the student — we’re trying to provide them with resources to help through the grieving process.”

The Medina Township boy was found in his bedroom shortly after 6 a.m. by a family member who called police.

Township Police Chief David Arbogast said the boy had had “mental health issues” and recently had returned from Akron Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Neil Grabenstetter, the Medina County coroner, said the boy died of asphyxia from hanging and that the death appeared to be a suicide. He said the final ruling would come in a few weeks after the results of tests.

According to Stepp’s email to parents, counselors were available to students at Claggett until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

A community meeting was held Tuesday night at the school, which enrolls 970 students, to inform parents of how to talk to their children about the issue, as well as the warning signs of suicide.

About 30 people attended the meeting.

Gail Houk, CEO of Alternative Paths, a nonprofit agency that provides suicide intervention, encouraged parents in the audience to ask their children questions and to contact her organization about any concerns.

“We are prepared to take your calls,” she said.

During the meeting, some parents raised questions about social media, which was spreading unsubstantiated stories about the boy, including claims on Facebook that he had been bullied.

Prior to the meeting, in response to a reporter’s question, Stepp said bullying was not an issue.

One parent asked if the school could do more to prevent students from using social media during the school day.

Stepp said the school could not prevent students from accessing social media on their phones but said social media websites are blocked on the school’s computers and wireless network.

Kristine Quallich, district director of educational services, said all students in kindergarten through grade 12 would be educated on Internet safety.

Following the meeting, Claggett Principal T.J. Hellickson reiterated that bullying was not related to the boy’s death.

“We don’t believe that had anything to do with it at this point,” he said.

Hellickson said school officials would continue to communicate with parents.

“We don’t want any child or family to feel unsupported through this process,” he said.

Counselors will be available 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Claggett cafeteria to talk to parents and students.

“If you have an immediate concern about your child’s well being please contact Alternative Paths at 330-725-9195 or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

For more information please visit: http://www.alternativepaths.org/

Service/Suicide-Warning-Signs,” Stepp wrote in the email.

“Please keep the family and friends of this individual in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” he said.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com. Contact reporter Steve Grazier at (330) 721-4012 or sgrazier@medina-gazette.com.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/George-Staursky/1319378728 George Staursky

    Ironic, as years ago I called the Medina School system and offered to do a program on mental illness and suicide prevention, and was told it was not necessary.

  • Peggy

    George I agree that all schools should have a program on mental illness and Suicide prevention.There is a lot of teens and adolesents who can use the help in problems that are going on in thier life.I am responding to this article because I am this childs aunt..and bullyin was a fator in this.He had came to couple of his cousins telling that he had been being bullied.Regardless the school Media does not want it to seem that way but it is the truth.We are grieving Deeply for the loss of him..Especially My sister (Whom is his mother) and his father.It angers me when no-one on the outside knows the truth.Other then his friends/family that he had been speaking to On Facebook..these Kids who do bullyin need to realize something like this is not a laughing matter,then when it does happen..its to late to say your sorry…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1540908930 Cliff Donoughe

    Peggy, you and your family have our deepest sympathies.We can’t imagine what you are going through, but you have our prayers.

  • Peggy

    Thank you so much…I really appreciate it and so does the family.

  • Mrs. B

    Peggy,nnYour nephew and family are in many prayers. I cannot imagine the grief you are going through. Yes, mental health of our young people in Medina is so important. Please know that many of us parents are also speaking up about bullying and suicide risk in our children. We need to take better care of each other in our communities.

  • anonymous

    Regardless of how it looked, he was a minor, and the ruling hadn’t been made when this was written, they had no right to print or put this up

  • A mom

    I totally agree!! Very sad for the family, I am so sorry for your loss, I also have a 14 year old who shares Deven’s birthday. This article is horrible, I was very offended, and with the HIPPA laws how dare they mention anything about a minors medical history.. Just sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carianna.beery.3 Carianna Beery

    Shame on them. It has always been an issue in schools. When someone makes such an offer, it should never be turned down.