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Boise mom says daughter attempted suicide due to bullying at school, district responds

For Idahoans in distress, this hotline is here to listen to you

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is Idaho's first statewide, nationally accredited hotline responding to calls and texts from all around the state.The hotline provides crisis intervention, emotional support, resource referrals, and more.
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The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is Idaho's first statewide, nationally accredited hotline responding to calls and texts from all around the state.The hotline provides crisis intervention, emotional support, resource referrals, and more.

Over the last two years, Amy Ruth Himmel said, her 11-year-old daughter has been “moo’d” at like a cow, stabbed with a pencil by her fellow classmates and been forced to hide in the bathroom at Grace Jordan Elementary.

But Himmel said she never imagined she would have to take her daughter, Sara, to the hospital after a suicide attempt.

Himmel said she heard Sara fall out of her bed Sunday morning. The fifth-grader had left her family a collection of notes. Among them was one of pure anguish, sadness and lost hope.

“I took pills I don’t know how many I took them at 8:58 p.m. ... Love you, give these notes in this book to people I wrote them to,” Sara’s note said. “If I die or am on a machine please do not keep it on. ... Please do not keep me alive.”

On March 16, Himmel posted a collection of handwritten notes to her personal Facebook page that she said were left on her daughter’s desk. Included among them was one that said, “Kill yourself.”

Himmel also posted that Sara had been admitted to the intensive care unit because of an attempted overdose.

On March 19, the Boise School District sent a statement to parents of students at Grace Jordan Elementary after Himmel’s Facebook post describing the bullying was shared widely among the community over the weekend. The posts have been shared a combined 11,000 times.

The school district said it is barred from providing any details about the incident due to federal law.

Himmel said she has talked to the school’s administration on a nearly weekly basis about Sara’s bullying but has not taken it to the district level.

“While the District cannot inform the public of actions taken to protect an individual student’s safety, it does not equate to a lack of action on our part,” the district’s statement reads.

This isn’t the first time the family has faced suicide, but Himmel said she wasn’t worried about Sara harming herself.

“Not with Sara ... We had a family member attempt suicide last year, so we’ve had these conversations about suicide,” Himmel said. “We had a very extensive conversation (Friday) ... she had no red flags.”

Himmel said her daughter was medically cleared from St. Luke’s in Downtown Boise on Monday and will move to Saint Alphonsus Behavioral Health Services for further evaluation if a bed becomes available.

Himmel said her daughter has been to counseling on and off for the last two years and takes anti-depressants, both of which began after the bullying started.

The bullies were a group of four girls, Himmel said.

Himmel said her intention behind her Facebook posts was never to gain attention.

“My original intention … (was) to let my immediate community know what was going on,” Himmel said. “I just couldn’t believe that I was sitting there watching my daughter and this was happening.”

The district said it “aggressively and proactively” confronts bullying through its Bullying, Hazing and Harassment Policy procedures.

The district’s statement was posted on the school district’s Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Himmel said the issue of her daughter’s bullying should have been dealt with a long time ago.

“As frustrated as I am and upset with these girls, I care about these girls. I’ve watched them grow up. They learned it from somewhere,” Himmel said. “If it were handled correctly, we might not be here right now.”

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz

Christina Lords: 208-377-6435, @ChristinaLords

IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS IN EMOTIONAL CRISIS

Call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HELLO to 208-398-4357.

Warning signs to watch for:

▪ Talking about wanting to die.

▪ Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

▪ Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

▪ Talking about being a burden to others.

▪ Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.

▪ Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly.

▪ Sleeping too little or too much.

▪ Withdrawing or isolating themselves.

▪ Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

▪ Extreme mood swings.

Other things you can do to help:

▪ Do not leave the person alone.

▪ Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.

▪ Listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.

▪ Be nonjudgmental. Don’t debate. Don’t lecture on the value of life.

▪ Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.

▪ Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.

▪ Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.

▪ Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.

▪ Get help by calling the hotline or visiting Suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Source: Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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