November 18, 2011

The tragedy of Ashlynn Conner

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As I prepared to leave the house today I caught something on The Today Show that was incredibly disheartening.  There was a feature story about a 10-year-old little girl named Ashylynn Conner who decided to take her own life.  It is believed to be the result of a two year bullying episode at her school.  Ashylynn asked her mom if she could be homeschooled after being harassed on the playground and being called a “slut.”  She had no idea what a “slut” was, according to her mother.  Ashylynn’s mom told her they could go to the school and talk about on Monday.  Ashylynn didn’t live to see Monday because she hung herself in her bedroom closet.

See the story about Ashlynn from The Today Show.

This story tears my heart apart, mainly because I have a 10-year-old daughter who is also in the 5th grade.   I can’t imagine this happening to my own daughter and I would love to think that if someone were harassing her, she’d easily tell me about it.  As my daughter made her toast this morning, I asked her if there was anyone who picks on her.  She said, “No.”  I also asked her if she knew of any kids who get picked on at school, and she said not in her class.  While preparing her toast, she cut herself and came to me to ask for a band-aid.  I saw the cut and immediately took care of it.  When a child is being bullied the “cut” isn’t as visible and sadly, the response isn’t as immediate.  As a parent it can be very difficult to always know when your child is hurting.  There are no definitive warning signs for suicide, even with children.  Maintaining a positive relationship and having open communication with our kids are essential.

I recall being ten years old and I am positive that I had no awareness of what suicide was, not to mention how to carry it out.  None of my peers discussed suicide or really knew what it was.  How did Ashlynn know?  It’s an unbelievable thought that Ashlynn considered ending her life and thought of how she would do it.  This led me to a very important question:

Are our kids being flooded with too much media?  Are they desensitized to tragedy?

There have been several cases of teens hanging themselves due to bullying.  Did Ashlynn see this on television or read about it online?  How would a child know how to commit such a tragic act?  What role, if any, does the media play in situations like this?  Do our kids understand the seriousness of what suicide means?

Ashlynn’s schoolmate was quoted during the interview, “Death is forever.  You can’t just die and come back.” 

Ashlynn was buried this Wednesday, two days after her mom planned to visit the school.


~Jamila Boddie, bNetS@vvy Editor



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