Coloma teen's suicide opens bullying discussion

Coloma, Mich. The tragic suicide of a 13-year-old Coloma girl has helped open up a dialogue about bullying in area schools.

The death of Elizabeth Schaus on July 21 shocked many of her classmates who knew her as a kind and loving friend.

Superintendent Terry Boguth said there were never any reports that Elizabeth had been bullied at school. Some of her friends say Elizabeth suffered from anxiety and depression that was worsened by insensitive comments from some of her peers.

“Sometimes it's just people make stupid comments and they don't realize they said anything so you can't get them in trouble, not realizing that they hurt you,” said Coloma student Abigail Tuttle.

Another classmate, Lindsey Fischer, said it was problem Elizabeth tried to hide.

“She didn't know what to do because she had anxiety, too,” Fischer said.

When the pair learned of their friend’s death, the decided to launch a page called “Elizabeth’s Challenge” as a forum for community members to talk about the issue of bullying.

“People started commenting on our status about their experiences with bullying at Coloma Community Schools,” Fischer said.

Parents have also commented on the page with stories about their children and bullies.

The importance of reporting every incident is a common theme on the page.

“If you're getting bullied then you should tell somebody instead of trying to ignore them because ignoring them doesn't work when they're trying to do it over and over,” Fischer said.

Superintendent Boguth told NewsCenter16 she is more than happy to meet with the group and discuss their concerns. They are planning to meet on Friday.


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