One of the most disturbing stories about a teen suicide linked to bullying comes from Otsu, Japan, where a 13-year-old boy was savagely bullied by both classmates and teachers before taking his life. The death occurred in October, but the story has just gone public.
Akiko Fujita reports for ABC News (link here):
The suicide of a 13-year-old boy in southern Japan after classmates systematically bullied him – even making him “practice” suicide – while teachers ignored the abuse or laughed has prompted soul-searching among educators across the country.
One of the boy’s last acts was to text his tormentors and leave voice mails for them to say, “I’m going to die.” They texted him back to say, “You should die.”
This is a full social breakdown scenario: The peer bullying included both mental and physical abuse. Teachers apprised of the bullying reportedly joined in on tormenting the boy. The boy’s father even filed reports with the police about his son’s death, who responded that the father “could not prove that bullying led to his suicide.”
Fujita reports that public outcry has been significant since the story broke a few days ago, and the city’s mayor has vowed a full investigation.
Among the many terrible pieces of this tragedy, the reports of adult teacher participation in the abuse are the worst of all. Hopefully a full, genuine investigation will examine the culture and staffing of a school where such behavior could occur.
July 12, 2012 followup — As reported in the Asahi Shimbun (link here), local police are conducting an investigation, which included an onsite search of the school and seizure of some 130 items:
Police searched a municipal junior high school and the Otsu government office on July 11 in connection with the suicide of a student who had been relentlessly bullied by his classmates.
Prefectural police seized 130 items, including a teacher’s daybook and documents on student guidance, from the principal’s room, teachers’ office and the municipal education board’s office.
Specifically, they were trying to gather evidence for assault charges against three classmates of the 13-year-old boy over an incident at an athletics stadium in Otsu in late September last year.