There seems to be a common response among school staff when a student commits suicide due to bullying; they claim there was nothing out of the ordinary. Nonetheless, it often surfaces how teachers and principals are aware of the abuse students are put through by their peers but never took it seriously enough to act on. Experts point out that school staff have to take an active role preventing bullying. And this means going beyond the reading off the school’s policies and regulations, it’s implementing them and following through with consequences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), violence prevention partners, and researchers have concluded that bullying and suicide-related behaviour are, “closely related.” The CD encourages “better training for all school staff who work with youth.”Two days earlier Gabe had fainted at the school where the nurse called his mother, suggesting she take him to the hospital because he had fainted.
Cincinnati Police homicide detective, Eric Karaguleff viewed one of the school videos on February 1, a week after Gabe committed suicide.
For five minutes the boy along with other students “step over, point, mock, nudge, kick, etc.,” while Gabe lays on the ground unconscious.
“While we are concerned about the length of time that Gabriel lay motionless and the lack of adult supervision at the scene, when school administrators became aware of the situation they immediately followed protocol by calling the school nurse to evaluate Gabriel,” The Cincinnati Police statement read.
Karaguleff wrote an email to Jeff McKenzie the school principal at West Price Hill school, principal Ruthenia Jackson, and three CPS officials concerning the video the security camera captured.
Karaguleff said that within an 18-minute timeline a boy enters the bathroom with kids fleeing six seconds within him entering. The boy hits another boy in the stomach “sending him to the floor in all fours.”
Then eight-year-old Gabe enters and “and appears to shake hands.” But he is yanked down to the floor where the perpetrator “appears to celebrate and rejoice in his behavior” while Gabe lies motionless.
She took him to the hospital where she was told it was probably the stomach flu.
In hindsight, Reynolds says there were signs her son was displaying of being bullied. He asked to stay home repeatedly and was constantly visiting the nurse at school.
“Him going to the nurse’s station or him not wanting to go to school, that was his way of trying to communicate with me. That was his way. He probably didn’t want to say, ‘Ma, somebody’s bullying or picking on me,’ you know? He just didn’t know how to tell me,'” she reveals.
“I witnessed behavior that in my belief is bullying and could even rise to the level of criminal assault, if not for the young ages of the perpetrators,” Karaguleff said of the video footage he witnessed.
The Hamilton County coroner is calling for a full police investigation and calling his death a homicide not a suicide.
“It was very hard for me to believe that an 8-year-old would even know what it means to commit suicide and so I asked Cincinnati police to treat this as a homicide until proven otherwise and investigate it fully,” Sammarco continued.
The school is trying to shift the blame to Reynolds.
“What we are going to try to do is determine what kind of physical findings may be attributed to injuries he sustained,” Sammarco explained.
The family is asking for the video to be released to the public.
Ironically the Cincinnati Public Schools reported that the number of bullying incidents had declined systemwide.
Gabe didn’t show any signs of mental or medical health issues according to Branch.
He was also an A student who was well-spoken, neat, and positive.
The investigation is still pending.