Teen Commits Suicide Due to Bullying: Parents Sue School for Son's Death
Parents' lawsuit claims their son endured nonstop bullying before his suicide.
April 2, 2009 — -- Eric Mohat, 17, was harassed so mercilessly in high school that when one bully said publicly in class, "Why don't you go home and shoot yourself, no one will miss you," he did.
Now his parents, William and Janis Mohat of Mentor, Ohio, have filed a lawsuit in federal court, saying that their son endured name-calling, teasing, constant pushing and shoving and hitting in front of school officials who should have protected him.
The lawsuit -- filed March 27, alleges that the quiet but likable boy, who was involved in theater and music, was called "gay," "fag," "queer" and "homo" and often in front of his teachers. Most of the harassment took place in math class and the teacher -- an athletic coach -- was accused of failing to protect the boy.
"When you lose a child like this it destroys you in ways you can't even describe," Eric Mohat's father told ABCNews.com.
The parents aren't seeking any compensation; rather, they are asking that Mentor High School recognize their son's death as a "bullicide" and put in place what they believe is a badly needed anti-bullying program.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, names school administrators Jacqueline A. Hoynes and Joseph Spiccia, as well as math teacher Thomas M. Horvath. None would comment on the allegations.
The Mohats also claim that bullying was a "significant factor" in the deaths of three other students in Eric Mohat's class in 2007.
Mentor high school officials confirmed that a girl and two other boys in Eric's class had killed themselves in 2007.
According to Janet Klee, a counselor at Chrysalis, a suicide survivors support group, who counseled two of the surviving families, the suicides were connected to bullying.
"These kids," said Klee, "were extremely bright, and [the bullies] thought they were nerds. I say that not in a derogative but in a good sense. These were good kids who were easy targets for bullying."
Dan Hughes, whose son Brandon was a friend of Eric's, said he had withdrawn his son from Mentor High School after he was relentlessly bullied. Brandon, now 19 and working, wrote a suicide note, citing the taunts, two weeks after Eric Mohat's death.
"What it boils down to is the football players, cheerleaders and kids with money have a different set of rules than everybody else," Hughes told ABCNews.com.
"It's not that much out of the ordinary, and the disturbing part is the school is more concerned about sweeping it under the rug than getting to the bottom of what's going on," he said.