The tragic story of Bethany Thompson

Teen Commits Suicide After Beating Cancer

Tommy Conroy, Staff Writer

Bethany Thompson was an 11 year old girl from Cable, Ohio. She was a sixth grader attending Triad Local Schools. Her interests included swimming, coloring, shopping — especially Goodwill– music, superheroes and Pokemon. She loved horseback riding, animals, and her family. She dreamed of being a veterinarian or a paleontologist

At three years old, she was diagnosed with brain cancer, which she managed to battle through until the age of 8 when she was cancer-free.

On October 19, 2016, due to relentless bullying, Bethany took her own life.

Radiation treatments to purge the cancerous cells from her body left Bethany with nerve damage around her face, leading to what her father would describe as a “crooked smile.” This smile was just one of the reasons that Bethany drew the attention of bullies at her school.

After a particularly difficult day, the sixth grader told her friend on the bus ride home that she would commit suicide when she got home. Before her friend could contact an adult, Bethany found gun and took her own life.

“I know that she’s in heaven. She’s happy and she’s perfect. She’s not hurting anymore,” Wendy Feucht, Bethany’s mother said. “I’ll see her again one day. I find a lot of comfort in knowing that.”

Feucht would add that the worst of the bullying occurred last year, when Bethany shared many classes with her tormentors. To create distance between her and the bullies, Feucht and the school would rearrange Bethany’s schedule.

Chris Piper, the superintendent of Triad Local Schools, said that “there were no further instances” of bullying after the schedule change. “Those instances stopped,” he said, adding that the school district investigates every report of bullying.

It is obvious that Mr. Piper’s words were anything but true.

On Bethany’s last day of school, she and a friend brought anti-bullying signs to school, with slogans on them such as, “buddies, not bullies.” They were told that they could not hang those signs around the school.

Overall, the actions taken by Triad regarding Bethany’s situation is baffling, and evidence of a sad trend and social norm that just won’t die. Schools across the nation are taking efforts to create strong anti-bullying policies and make students feel safe.

Despite this, cases like Bethany’s still crop up at an alarming frequency. Four years prior, a 12 year old boy took his own life after being bullied. This boy went to Triad, just as Bethany did. It is a sad reality that even outside of the small community of Cable, Ohio, teen suicide is tragically frequent, with bullying often being linked to the cause.

Superintendent Piper stated that the bullying was being investigated, and that there was no traces of it at the start of this school year.

And yet here we are, mourning a sweet, innocent girl who deserved a long, beautiful life.

Bullying can devastate a child’s life, and leave lasting effects on the minds of those who suffer from it. It can even drive one to consider taking their own life. This latter point is not given nearly as much emphasis as it should.

A connection between suicide and bullying must be made. The topic is often skirted around awkwardly when it comes to teaching on students about the negative effects of bullying. However, to properly instill on young children what bullying could lead to, we must tackle the problem head on.

While it is impossible to bring poor Bethany back, it is possible to begin enacting hands-on change, and do everything we can to make sure no one else has to go through what she did.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the Teen Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-294-3300; or the Lifeline national organization for suicide prevention at 1-800-273-8255.

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The tragic story of Bethany Thompson