A 13-year-old Michigan boy reportedly killed himself after being bullied on the school bus.
His mother told local news outlets that the boy, Michael Martin, an eighth-grade student at Everett High School, died Jan 25.
He died two days after the suicide attempt, reported the Lansing State Journal.
Before his death, Martin was bullied on the bus for his glasses, weight, and braces, his mother, Joanna Wohlfert, told the newspaper.
Before the incident, she said her son missed 33 days of school since September due to the bullying.
Wohlfert alleged that district and staff at the bus company, Dean Transportation, failed Michael. She alleged that inaction of the school staff contributed to his death.
His family says he was tormented on the bus over his weight, glasses, and braces for months – and the school did nothing.
“I know that some schools are overwhelmed with kids, but if you have a parent that’s reaching out to you, and trying to get help for their child, why wouldn’t you reach back?” she told the State Journal. “Why wouldn’t you do something? He was going through a dark time and nobody cared. Nobody paid attention to him.”
Lansing School District spokesman Bob Kolt said last week that school staff responded to her reports of bullying.
“He was going through a dark time and nobody cared,” his mother added to the newspaper. “Nobody paid attention to him.”
Michael Martin was an eighth grader at Everett High School. He was bullied, according to his mother. She says Lansing School District officials failed him.
Police in Lansing said they’re investigating bullying related to his death.
Assistant Principal Priscilla Ellis spoke with Wohlfert. When the mother asked about bullying, Ellis allegedly said, “She said, ‘Well, it’s not that I forgot about him…let me see what I can do,'” according to Wohlfert.
She added: “Then I never heard anything from her.”
Wohlfert also provided emails to the paper, showing that she pleaded to faculty and administrators about bullying.
“I AM ASKING FOR ANY HELP I CAN GET,” she wrote to a counselor on Jan. 8.
School officials released a statement on Feb. 4 confirming officials are investigating the matter.
“The Lansing School District is engaged in a comprehensive and on-going investigation and is working closely with the Lansing Police Department,” the district said, reported the New York Post.
“It is the policy and practice of the district to not comment or share any details pertaining to the investigation while it is on-going.”
If you are in an emergency in the U.S. or Canada, please call 911. You can phone the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1 800 273 8255. Youth can call the Kids Help Phone on 1800 668 6868.
Bullying in the United States
According to Stop Bullying, a government group, 28 percent of students in the United States have experienced bullying while 70 percent of youth have seen bullying at school. Some 30 percent of respondents admitted to bullying in surveys, the group said. In one study, about 49 percent of students in grades 4 through 12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the previous month.
“The most common types of bullying are verbal and social. Physical bullying happens less often. Cyberbullying happens the least frequently,” the group stated. “Most bullying takes place in school, outside on school grounds, and on the school bus. Bullying also happens wherever kids gather in the community. And of course, cyberbullying occurs on cell phones and online.”
The relationship between bullying and suicide is complex, according to Stop Bullying.
While the vast majority of young people who are bullied don’t commit or attempt suicide, Stop Bullying said, “research indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior.”