Investigation Into Whether 10-Year-Old Boston Girl Killed Herself

School investigating whether bullying played a role in child's actions.

October 6, 2010, 3:03 PM

Oct. 7, 2010 — -- The Boston school attended by a 10-year-old girl who apparently committed suicide is investigating whether bullying played a role in the child's death.

"Because of the initial report [of the apparent suicide], we, of course, jumped right in and started to talk to the principal about the student's history and relationships with other students in the school," Boston Public Schools spokesman Lee McGuire said.

Little will be known about the circumstances of the fourth-grader's death until an official autopsy report is conducted, McGuire said.

It's unclear when the report will be available. A message left for the Boston Medical Examiner's Office was not immediately returned.

Mental health counselors were sent to the school, which has not been identified, and teachers spoke to students about the death, McGuire said.

The girl, who has not been named, was found by her mother in their Allston apartment Tuesday evening hanging by a scarf, according to police.

"It appears she was hanging, it appears it was suicide," Boston police spokeswoman Jill Flynn said.

Flynn declined to comment on what may have motivated the girl.

"It's a 10-year-old, so it's very sensitive," she said. "Investigators are just waiting on an autopsy."

John Tarver, a neighbor of the victim, said police were still monitoring the first-floor apartment where the girl is believed to have killed herself.

Tarver said the victim "was a nice kid" who had frequently played with his daughter.

"When she comes over or when my daughter wants to go down there to play, I've never had an indication about anything [bad going on]," Tarver said.

"I don't know if [the victim] had seen it somewhere and was just trying something and it was an accident."

Her death comes on the heels of several high-profile suicides by people who were victims of school bullying.

In April 2009, an 11-year-old Springfield, Mass., boy committed suicide after being bullied by classmates who called him gay.

And a Rutgers University freshman leaped to his death last month after he was allegedly secretly taped during a gay sexual encounter by his roommate and another student.

10-Year-Old Dies in Apparent Suicide

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, the Massachusetts boy, hanged himself from a railing in his home after leaving a note behind declaring his love for his mother and aunt.

Carl's mother, Sirdeaner Walker, said that while it is unclear what may have motivated the 10-year-old girl, it's shocking to hear about an apparent suicide of a child so young.

"It's a total shock when you hear something like this," Walker said. "Unfortunately, it seems like it's happening more in the last couple of weeks and you have to wonder what's behind it.

"It makes me very sad for the family and all of her friends.

"I think [suicide] is an impulsive act, and I think that the generation now, they're so much more aware and smarter than previous generations," she said. "They have access to social networking sites and computers and the Internet. They are very savvy in finding out information, whether it's, unfortunately, how to commit suicide or even about sex."

Walker said she has turned her grief into motivation to help schools across the United States provide better training for teachers and mandate that parents are notified about bullying.

An anti-bullying law will go into effect in Massachusetts, where Carl died, later this year, Walker said.

"If you have no idea [bullying] is happening and your child never tells you, some harm can come to your child," Walker said. "And the most extreme is for your child to commit suicide."

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