To say that I’m shocked and stunned at this news is an understatement.
Ashlynn Conner, a 10-year-old fifth grader from Georgetown, Illinois, committed suicide on Friday after “being taunted by schoolmates who called her fat, ugly and worse.”
Classmates called Ashlynn a slut. At age 10. Incomprehensible.
“She was called a slut in school, and she came home and told me she didn’t even know what that word meant,” her mother, Stacy Conner, told ABC News. “I didn’t tell her what that word meant. She’s too young to know what that word means,” she added.
This is the first suicide by an elementary student in the Georgetown-Ridge Farm school district. I can’t imagine there have been too many suicides committed by children as young as ten, though I found a 2010 story about the death of an Oregon 6-year-old that was ruled a suicide. In it, adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Kirk Wolfe is quoted as saying, “Most kids this age are not aware of what death actually is. Not until they get to be 8, 9, and 10 do they understand death is final and you don’t come back.” Which means that Ashlynn had some idea of the finality of her decision, even though that’s hard to comprehend.
Ashlynn was described by a neighbor as “a happy-go-lucky, good-natured girl.” The taunts against Ashlynn escalated about two weeks ago, and as a result, the honor student “reportedly asked her mother if she could be home-schooled.” Based on posts in a Facebook group created in honor of Ashlynn, it appears that the young child reported the bullying to school officials and was ignored, as is so common in these cases. Ashlynn was found in a closet Friday, hanging by a scarf.
As if that’s not tragic enough, here’s the really gut-wrenching part of the story, as told by ABC News:
Ashlynn’s mother describes her daughter as always smiling and always going out of her way to help others. Stacy Conner recalls one instance when “she brings this bag down the hall just dragging it down the hallway, they were her clothes and she wanted them to go to Haiti because they needed them more than she did.”
In her death, Ashlynn is still helping others. Her family has donated her organs to at least three recipients.
Ashlynn’s family decided to engage the media in their time of grief in the hopes that Ashlynn’s death might help bullies reconsider their actions, preventing another senseless tragedy.