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Bullying blamed in 10-year-old girl's suicide

The mother of a 10-year-old Illinois girl who hanged herself said her daughter had been "teased and taunted" by kids at school and in the neighborhood.
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The mother of a 10-year-old Illinois girl who committed suicide by hanging herself said her daughter had been "teased and taunted" by kids at school and in the neighborhood.

Stacy Conner told The News-Gazette in Champaign-Urbana on Monday that when she picked up her daughter Ashlynn from school on Thursday, Ashlynn was upset about three girls picking on her and asked if she could be home-schooled.

Conner told her daughter they would talk to the principal on Monday. Ashlynn, a fifth-grader, seemed in better spirits on Friday, when school was closed for Veterans Day.

Ashlynn's grandmother, Lory Hackney, told the newspaper the family was home Friday night, when they noticed Ashlynn had not been seen for a while. When her older granddaughter, Michaila Baldwin, 14, went looking for Ashlynn, she found her body in her bedroom closet.

"I don't know what was so bad she couldn't wait," Hackney told the News-Gazette. She said she was unable to revive her granddaughter with CPR. The girl was pronounced dead at at a nearby medical center.

Read the original story on The News-Gazette

The death has prompted an outpouring of grief and shock in the east central Illinois community of Ridge Farm. Vermilion County Sheriff Patrick Hartshorn said his office is investigating the possibility that bullying was a factor in the suicide.

On Monday, sheriff’s investigators reportedly were interviewing students named by Conner's family as possible bullies, but Hartshorn his officers "don't have any firm evidence."

Hackney said her granddaughter had complained of mostly verbal and emotional abuse, with students calling her fat, ugly and a slut.

"All she wanted to do was make people happy and please them," Conner told the newspaper, adding that she believes "it all just got to" Ashlynn.

On Monday night, the Ridge Farm community held at candlelight vigil in honor of Ashlynn, which drew more than 200 people, the News-Gazette reported.

Hackney said she wants to raise awareness about bullying, "so there won't be other Ashlynns."

"I want to see a law that will hold parents accountable and to a degree, the kids, depending on their age," she told the News-Gazette. "This cannot continue to happen."