13-year-old Teenager’s Suicide Blamed On School Bullying, Says Family
Posted By: Adrian Garcia | April 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm EST
Relatives of a 13-year-old Maine teenager, Kitty McGuire, who committed suicide last week, say the teenager was bullied in the months leading up to her death. Her family described her as a young teen who was different from most of her peers.
Timothy McGuire, Kitty’s brother, told the Portland Press Herald that Kitty was targeted by fellow students because she was trying different ways to express herself.
“She was trying to figure out her sexuality,” he said. “She was trying to figure out who she was.”
Kitty tried expressing herself differently by dying her hair and wearing unusual earrings and unusual clothes, including some all-black outfits, he said.
According to a description for a Facebook Tribute page dedicated to Kitty McGuire: “She was a good child, but because she was bi people were cruel to her. May she rest in peace, and she is gone but not forgotten. Kitty Mcguire 3~26~13”
Heather Perry, superintendent of Regional School Unit 3, said McGuire was subjected to at least three incidents of teasing that were “not bullying” or harassment.
On Monday, 20 students and family members participated in a demonstration to draw attention on Kitty’s death and say that bullying was what drove Kitty to commit suicide.
According to the Portland Press Herald:
“It was hard to get her to talk about it,” he said.
“I think they should be treating it as a bullying issue,” said Fred McGuire, who said he is Kitty’s grandfather as well as her legal guardian, having raised her as his daughter. Fred McGuire said Timothy is his son.
Fred McGuire said he overheard Kitty talking angrily with her friends on the phone about being bullied.
Kitty said students at the school “were obnoxious and making slurs toward her,” he said.
Fred McGuire said that it was part of an ongoing pattern that began when Kitty started being open about her sexual orientation.
He wanted to protect her, he said, but it was difficult to know what to do.
“She said, ‘Don’t call the guidance counselor. It just makes it worse,”‘ he said. He said Kitty went to the school’s guidance counselor herself two or three times to try to have the issue addressed.
While the bullying was mostly in the form of name-calling and ostracism, on at least one occasion, he said, it turned physical.
“One of the boys kicked her in the leg,” he said.
Just a couple of weeks before Kitty took her own life, Fred McGuire said, the bullying erupted into a confrontation between Kitty and two other children on the school bus.
“They were screaming at each other loudly on the bus,” he said.
There are electronic records of some of the bullying, Fred McGuire said, but they were unavailable because the family gave Kitty’s iPod to the police investigating her death.
Lt. Jason Trundy of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department said he could not confirm any details of the case because it is an ongoing investigation.
According to the Bangor Daily News, another possible factor that contributed to her suicide is the fact that a relative Kitty was very close to — an uncle who was like a brother to her and who struggled with mental illness — committed suicide at home last April, according to her family members.
“She had a very hard time after his death,” Hannah McGuire, Timothy McGuire’s wife, said.
The close-knit family, shocked by her uncle’s sudden death, tried their best to support Kitty through her own grieving process. They sought out counseling.
Some Mount View students are also upset that the school has discouraged them from wearing t-shirts, pins and other items to memorialize McGuire and condemn bullying.
“We shouldn’t hide it,” 10th-grader Tori Strain, 16, told the Morning Sentinel. “We do not support suicide. We just want to support Kitty.”
Memorial arrangements for Kitty are still being made, Timothy McGuire said.
Kitty was a sixth-grade student at Mount View Middle School in Thorndike, which is part of Regional School Unit 3. The district serves the communities of Brooks, Freedom, Knox, Jackson, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo.
This spring, Perry said, the school will host parent forums to talk about the situation.
Update: April 4, 2013 at 8:11 pm EST – WCSH 6 Reports:
“She was a sweet little girl, funny, bright so lively,”said Fred McGuire.
They say the 13-year-old sixth grader took her own life because she was being bullied, both at school and on the bus.
“They targeted her for her sexual orientation. One person even kicked her,” said McGuire.