A 5th grader at London, OH elementary hanged herself Saturday
11-year-old London girl commits suicide
Counselors and a crisis team are in London Elementary School today to help students and
employees deal with the news that an 11-year-old student killed herself at home over the weekend.
London Police Chief David Wiseman said Hailey Petee, who was in the fifth grade, hanged herself in her bedroom overnight Saturday. Police were called to the family’s London home on Walnut Street at 12:17 a.m. Sunday.
Wiseman, who is part of the county’s suicide-prevention coalition, said it’s been a difficult weekend for everyone involved.
London Schools Superintendant Thomas Ben said counselors will stay on hand as long as necessary.
“It’s a terribly sad day,” he said.
Hailey’s parents, Melinda Groce and David Petee, said this afternoon that their daughter has been teased and bullied by neighborhood kids for months. They are putting out a call to action for it to stop.
Hailey, her dad said, has always worn glasses, the lenses so thick they distorted the look of her eyes. And she’s always been loud, outspoken, hyper — she took medication for her attention-deficit disorder — and other kids teased her because of it.
“She didn’t want people to make fun of her,” Petee said. “She just wanted to be like everybody else.”
Wiseman said today that in October, the police department charged a London woman who lives in the neighborhood and has a young daughter about Hailey’s age with telephone harassment and disorderly conduct in connection with causing Hailey and the Petee family some trouble. The disorderly conduct charge has been dropped, but the other charge is pending in Madison County Municipal Court.
But Wiseman cautioned that the police department will continue to investigate Hailey’s suicide and that no connection has yet been made.
For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third-leading cause of death, resulting in about 4,600 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last year in Franklin County, Coroner Jan Gorniak sounded the alarm when she saw what she said was a disturbing trend: her office investigated nine suicides where the person was under the age of 18. That’s more than the previous four years combined.
Gorniak said in an interview with The Dispatch in December that she would like to see school districts do a better job of identifying youth at risk for suicide and getting them help.
“There are all these counselors at the schools after this happens,” she said. “But where were they before?”
Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts can contact a 24-hour suicide-prevention hot line at 614-221-5445.