Bullying in school environments is not a rare or recent development by any means. However, it would appear the intensity and consequences have reached new, devastating heights in more recent cases. I was shocked to discover that there have been five recent teen suicides from bullying, in the high school in my current city.
According to one of my local news-station’s website, www.foxnews.com, in Mentor High School (Mentor, Ohio) there have been four cases of teen suicides from bullying in a little more than three years. The suicides were from one teen who was bullied for being gay, one being bullied because of a learning disability, one for a boy who liked to wear pink, one from an overdose of antidepressants and the most recent case; Sladjana Vidovic. Sladjana was a sixteen year old Croatian girl; who tied one end of a rope around her neck and the other around her bed post and jumped out of her bedroom window in 2008.
In Sladjana’s suicide note, she wrote of the daily torture she endured in Mentor High. According to Fox News, she was called names such as, “slutty-Jana” and “slut-Jana-vagina.” Food was thrown at her, a water bottle was thrown at her face, she was attacked because of her thick accent, and was pushed down stairs. Sladjana endured this cruel behavior from her peers in spite of, or perhaps because she was beautiful, charming and enthusiastic.
It may seem this story is at this point already as terrible as it could get, but it becomes worse. According to Sladjana’s parents, they had begged the school several times to help the situation. The school promised they would, but nothing was done. A week before she took her own life, Sladjana had dropped from Mentor High and enrolled in an online school, but it was too late for the damage that had been done to the sixteen year old girl. It may seem likely that her prosecutors would feel immense guilt and suffering after receiving the news of Sladjana’s suicide; however, they displayed just the opposite. Even after her death, Sladjana’s bullying continued. At the Wake, the girls who tortured Sladjana for months walked up to her casket and laughed at her.
There have been two lawsuits against Mentor High-including from Sladjana’s family- about the un-acknowledged cases of intense bullying. As horrific and shocking as Sladjana’s story is, it is just one of the many that happen to teens. According to www.bullyingstatistics.org, bullying is defined as, “Behaviors that focus on making someone else feel inadequate, or focus on belittling someone else. Bullying includes harassment, physical harm, repeated demeaning speech, and efforts to ostracize another person. Bullying is active and is done with the intention of bringing another person down.” The site also claims that even if bullying does not lead to suicide it does have deep effects on teens that can lead to depression, drug use, and stunted social development, which can affect an individual even into adulthood.