Parents, community react to Kasson-Mantorville student’s suicide
Jeff Hansel, Rochester Post-Bulletin, May 1, 2012 –
Kasson-Mantorville seventh grader Rachel Ehmke, 13, took her own life because of bullying, her parents believe.
“Those words, they have that much power,” said her father, Rick Ehmke. “Some kids just take those words to heart, and it kills — it killed my daughter.”
Rachel’s death is having a ripple effect on social media. Students at area schools have been posting their grief on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and other sites since shortly after she died Sunday.
“People have been reporting some of the Facebook posts to us, and there are certain kids throughout the middle school that we really need to keep an eye on,” K-M Superintendent Mark Matuska said.
Posts after Rachel’s death describe a variety of responses, including anger at bullies and a deep sense of loss.
When to seek help </p>
If your child, student or friend is struggling, seek help from a trusted adult such as a counselor if he or she:
• Stops talking or becomes very reserved and quiet.
• Can’t sleep.
• Exhibits abnormal behavior.
• Cries a lot.
• Starts giving possessions away.
• Says something on social media such as Facebook or Twitter that would cause concern if it was said to you in person.
• Talks about life not being worth living.
What else should you know?
• Kids should know it’s OK to feel sad and to talk about what happened.
• One of the most prevalent reasons for hospitalization at Mayo Clinic in Rochester is victimization, such as bullying.
• Parents need to know what kids are doing online, so they should be “friends” with their kids on social media.
• It’s OK for kids to have some normal privacy with friends online to talk about their feelings, but parents should get involved when friends aren’t able to help. Thus, monitoring what kids do online is important.
• If you’re worried about a particular student, call a school counselor, parent or both.
• Engage your kids in conversation. Ask how they’re feeling today, or ask how they feel about what happened.
(Sources: Mark Bronson, therapist at Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center and Dr. Leslie Sim, a child psychologist at Mayo Clinic)</td>