Abbie Bartels. (Photos via Twitter)
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from Milton Hershey School.
It has been three years since 14-year-old Pennsylvania girl Abbie Bartels died by suicide, and now her parents have filed a lawsuit against the prestigious Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania, accusing the boarding school of causing her death by expelling Bartels and barring her from eighth grade graduation after she expressed a desire to harm herself. Read more »
On April 11th, Penn junior Ao “Olivia” Kong was killed by an oncoming SEPTA train near 40th Street Station. The death was later ruled a suicide. Now, a week-old petition imploring university officials to address the problems plaguing the school’s mental health resources has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures.
Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price released a statement addressing the community’s concerns and providing updates on the steps the school is taking to ramp up its mental health resources. Gutmann has called for the school’s Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare to reconvene — it completed a year-long study on the subject in 2015 following several high-profile suicides at the school. The school had vowed to fight a culture of “destructive perfectionism.”
“We have asked the chairs of the Task Force, Anthony Rostain and Rebecca Bushnell, to immediately reconvene the Task Force to determine as expeditiously as possible what additional steps can be taken to help ensure the health and well-being of our students,” Gutmann and Price’s statement reads. The school has extended the hours of its counseling service (CAPS) in the wake of Kong’s death, but some Penn students have expressed extreme discontent with the school’s ability to treat students effectively. Read more »
Photo via Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute
University of Pennsylvania engineering student Stephen Kyle Wilshusen killed himself on December 31st making him the tenth University of Pennsylvania student to die by suicide in less than three years, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian. Read more »
Going “Home for the Holidays” can be chore — but it’s no worse than during the rest of the year.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center at Penn has some good news for people who appreciate accuracy in media: Last year, for the first time in four years, there was a decrease in the number of news stories that falsely associated holiday time with suicide. Annenberg’s analysis notes that the lowest suicide rate is between mid-November and January, yet for many years the majority of news outlets tended to perpetuate the holiday-suicide myth rather than contradict it. Read more »
The body of Timothy Hamlett, a Penn track star missing since December, was found in New York’s Hudson River over the weekend.
“On Monday afternoon, Katherine Hamlett confirmed that her son, former Penn junior Timothy Hamlett, had been found dead on Friday in the Hudson River. She said she believes her son jumped from the George Washington Bridge, committing suicide,” the Daily Pennsylvanian reports.
“We never had any indication that our son was suicidal at all. It is important to me that people do know that this is what he did,” Hamlett told the paper. “I don’t want to sweep it under the rug and avoid the reality of how he died.” Read more »
Sean McGrellis from his LinkedIn page
The friends and family of Sean McGrellis are grieving his loss after the 37-year-old Williamstown, New Jersey, man jumped from a balcony high up at Center City’s Embassy Suites Hotel on Saturday afternoon. He has been identified by the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office, and the death was ruled a suicide. Read more »
A university task force formed after a wave of suicides hit campus last year says Penn must fight a culture of “destructive perfectionism.”
The Daily Pennsylvanian reports:
The eight-page report focuses on “cultural change rather than structural change,” Co-Chair of the task force Anthony Rostain said.
“Destructive perfectionism,” according to Rostain, is one thing the Penn community needs to fight. The report contends “the drive for academic excellence along with the perception that in order to be successful one needs to hold leadership roles in multiple realms contributes to the amount of stress and distress experienced by Penn students.”
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A member of the Bucks County family accused of accumulating a fortune through insurance fraud, has killed himself.
Thomas French was married to Claire Risoldi. “Risoldi’s family set fires in their matriarch’s home so they could collect more than $20 million in insurance claims, then used the cash float an ‘excessively extravagant lifestyle’ marked by $1.2 million in jewelry and six Ferraris, according to charges announced last month by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane,” NBC 10 reports.
French, 64, “shot himself in front of a Risoldi family home” on Thursday, the station reported.
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A heartbreaking end to a heartbreaking week in Philadelphia, with news that 14*-year-old Skyler Baffa of Broomall, Delaware County, committed suicide on Thursday. Read more »
Tragic news out of Folsom, California today is the latest eye-opener to the fact that bullying is alive and well—and the repercussions can be devastating. News 10 reports on a 12-year-old boy who committed suicide after he faced bullying at school for being a cheerleader.
Last year, Ronin Shimizu was in sixth grade at Folsom Middle School and was the only boy on the Eagles cheer squad. Friends said he was bullied for being a cheerleader. The bullying got to be so bad, Ronin was taken out of school and had to be home-schooled. He was also being home schooled this year.
“He was bullied very badly,” Riley Coleman said as she teared up. The Folsom Middle School sixth grader was on the squad with Ronin last year. “It’s not ok to bully people,” she said through tears.
“So sad to know that people can hurt you that way,” student Allie Flahive said.
“I was devastated when I found out. I started crying,” Ronin’s friend Grace Velander said. “I’ve known him since 6th grade. Me and him had classes all last year together.”
“He was just a sweet child. For him to feel that hopeless is heart-breaking,” concerned parent Cynthia Brown said.
Read more »