Funeral services were scheduled for today in Ridge Farm, Illinois, for 10-year-old Ashlynn Conner, who committed suicide Friday, Nov. 11, after enduring taunts and teasing from her classmates and children in her neighborhood for several years, according to this report in the Chicago Tribune.
Ashlynn’s mother, Stacy Conner, told the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette this week that as recently as the day before her death, Ashlynn had complained about being taunted and harassed by classmates, and had asked if she could be home-schooled so she wouldn’t have to be around those who had bullied her.
The child’s grandmother, Lory Hackney, said that the taunts began when Ashlynn was about 7 years old, after she started cheerleading for a youth football league and got her hair cut in a short bob. Hackney said the other children would laugh at Ashlynn and call her a boy, and as she got older, her tormentors progressed to calling her fat, ugly and a slut.
Family members said although Ashlynn had been upset most of Thursday night, by Friday — when school was out for Veterans Day — she seemed in a much better mood. However, later that evening when the family realized they had not seen Ashlynn for some time, her older sister, 14-year-old Michaila Baldwin, went looking for her. She found Ashlynn in a bedroom closet where she had hung herself.
Sheriff Pat Hartshorn told the Tribune that while investigators are not ruling out the possibility of bullying as a contributing factor, they have found no evidence of the bullying so far.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 200 children between the ages of 10 and 14 committed suicide between 1999 and 2005, the most recent numbers available. But those numbers do not include the scores of children and teens who have killed themselves in the last 18 months in a spate of highly-publicized suicides — including the suicide of Asher Brown in Houston — that have focused the country’s attention on the problem of bullying.