Bullying prompted Quebec teen's suicide, mom says
Published Wednesday, November 30, 2011 10:05PM EST
The suicide of a 15-year-old Quebec girl who was persistently bullied should serve as a wake-up call for education officials and parents everywhere, the girl's mother says.
Marjorie Raymond killed herself on Monday, after telling her family that she had been tormented by classmates at her high school.
The teen said that the bullying began on her first day at Gabrielle-Le-Courtois high school, located in the eastern Quebec town of Gaspe.
"People need to wake up. There are more teenagers out there. How many people need to be victims?" asked mother Chantal Larose on Wednesday.
But Larose told CTV Montreal that she had only recently discovered that her daughter was being bullied, referring to Marjorie as the type of person who bottled up their feelings.
When she discovered the bullying, Larose contacted school administrators, but said aside from a few suspensions, nothing else was done. So when the situation didn't improve, the teen finally expressed that she was afraid of other students in her classes.
Based on her daughter's fears, Larose said the family promised to pull the teen out of the high school and place her in a technical adult institution. However, Marjorie would have to wait until her 16th birthday for the change.
But it appears that Marjorie couldn't wait a year to escape her tormenters, and she told her mother "I can't go to class, I can't concentrate."
In a suicide note, Marjorie said her actions were caused by "the jealous people in this world who only want to destroy happiness."
She went on to write a heartfelt apology to her young brother, sister and parents.
"You are the best mother in the world," Marjorie wrote. "I'll now be your guardian angel in a better place."
Grief councillors have been dispatched to Marjorie's high school to help students come to terms with the loss.
Yet even after her death, Marjorie continued to be subject of bullying attacks.
A Facebook page mocking the teen's death surfaced on Wednesday. One user posted a picture of a bloodied young woman slumped against a wall. As well, the webpage's main photo is a cartoon depicting a man hanging himself.
While Marjorie's bullies had reportedly tormented her for more than a year, the head of the local school board said that he was never given details about the case.
The young girl's death comes during a year that's seen a rash of bullying-related suicides in Canada and beyond.
Residents in an Ottawa community are still reeling from the death of 15-year-old Jamie Hubley, an openly-gay teen who killed himself in October after being relentlessly teased and assaulted by classmates.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty introduced new legislation Wednesday allowing schools to expel students for bullying.
While it's not yet clear if he intends to take a similarly hard line, Quebec Premier Jean Charest condemned bullying on Wednesday and offered his condolences to Marjorie's family.
"These issues are often difficult issues and we'll look at whatever we can do that could be more effective," he said.
Parti-Quebecois leader Pauline Marois has called for the Ministry of Education's anti-bullying programs to be re-evaluated.
Youth councillor Cheryl-Lynn Roberts said that some victims have nowhere to hide, especially given the popularity of Facebook and Twitter among teens.
"Not just by physically getting bullied, but cyber-bullying is rampant. (Teens) are discouraged. They don't know what to do."
And while some school officials have stiffened punishments for bullies, an education expert said suspensions are only part of the answer.
"There's been kind of reactive response, generally, to either suspend the student of expel them, but (with) very little follow-up," said Shaheen Shariff, an educational expert at McGill University.
She said a longer-term approach and more monitoring is needed to ensure that punishment makes a difference.
With a report from CTV Montreal's Paul Karwatsky