Local teen suicides linked to bullying - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local teen suicides linked to bullying

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For some students, bullying becomes so bad it leads to suicide.  That has authorities looking into ways to prevent young people from killing themselves.

Donna Neblett, whose daughter Rachael committed suicide, told WDRB's Valerie Chinn of one bullying message: "They said 'We're not going to put you in the hospital, we're going to put you in the morgue.'  And sure enough, they basically did."

It's been six years since Rachael Neblett took her own life after being bullied online.  Police investigated and found the computer IP address, but never found out who sent the harassing messages.

As they visit her grave, her mother and sister have many unanswered questions and still look for closure.  Patricia Spalding, Rachael's sister, said, "I say a lot of stuff, like I love you, I wish you would have talked to me more."

Six months after Rachael's death, her best friend did the same thing.  Then six months after that, another friend committed suicide.

Rachel's friend Steven is buried across from her, hit by a drunk driver.  It's a cemetery filled with young people who all went to Bullitt East High School.

Donna Neblett was asked, "How does it make you feel to stand here and see Rachael and all her friends around her?"   Her response was, "They are all together.  They're all still hanging out like they always did. They will be frozen at their age as we age on ourselves."

According to the Kentucky Department of Education, there were nearly 6100 incidents of bullying during the last school year alone in which students were expelled or suspended.

Another mother, Bekishia Cosby, says, "It's hard because I have to live with this, it is just rough."  Her son B.B was a cheerleader at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

The sixth grader says students were relentless teasing him about his voice, calling him degrading names, even defacing his shoes.  He tried to wash them off, but the words remained.

He says he tried to kill himself, "Because too much pressure had built up, I couldn't hold it anymore."

The CDC says suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 12 to 18.  Statistics show more than 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, nearly 7 percent have attempted it.  4400 die each year.

"A.F.", another bullying victim, says other children were calling her names.  She says a 150 pound, over five feet tall boy continued to bully her over and over at Foster Traditional Academy.  Frustrated with Jefferson County Public Schools, the Furman family has joined the family of another victim, "B.B.," in hiring attorney Teddy Gordon to file lawsuits against the district.

JCPS says it can't comment on pending litigation.

Joy Furman, A.F.'s mother, says, "She suffered a mild concussion where him and another student bashed her head in a projector."  They say the bully threw a soccer ball at her head, then kicked her in the chest and knocked her out during recess.

The 9-year-old was taken to the emergency room for a bruised breastbone.

Michael Furman, A.F's father, explains, "I find out she got kicked in her chest from the little boy that had been bullying her the whole school year.  I had her transferred from that class he was in to class she was in now, for it to happen on the playground, I was devastated."

A.F. is now going to a new school and B.B. is being home schooled at the request of a doctor because of his severe depression from being bullied.

Rachael's death led the Neblitt family to work with Kentucky legislators to pass laws for bullying, cybersafety, and suicide prevention education.  They're also reaching out to schools, telling them Rachael's story and how suicide and bullying can be prevented.

Rachael's sister Patricia Spalding says, "Y ou have to wake up and realize your sister or brother is not there no more.  But yet they think this pain is gone, but, honey, it's not, it will not be gone."

And Donna Neblett says, "When I come home from work that day, I'm the one that found her and no mother wants to fill my shoes, because I tell you what, it's a feeling you will never get over."

Wednesday on WDRB News at Four and Ten, Chris Turner investigates what parents can do if their child is being bullied and what's being done to stop the violence in our schools.

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