Sister of deceased Kasson-Mantorville seventh-grader speaks about bullying
Heather Rule, Rochester Post-Bulletin, May 2, 2012 –
Brittany Ehmke spoke up for her sister, and spoke out against bullying.
The 22-year-old is the sister of Rachel Ehmke, 13, a Kasson-Mantorville seventh-grader who took her own life because of bullying, her family believes.
Brittany Ehmke told a group of more than 20 people Tuesday during a meeting of Community Against Bullying at Neveln Elementary School in Austin how her sister was bullied, and she recounted events that surrounded her sister’s suicide.
“It hurts so bad because I wish I would have known what my little sister was going through,” Ehmke said.
Tears flowed as she tried to compose herself to begin speaking to the anti-bullying group. As she talked about Rachel’s death, many people in the room began to shed tears. As she told her story, a hush fell over the room.
“This is the worst thing that you could ever go through,” she said. “She felt like there was nothing else to do.”
How to help What: Walk for Rachel.</p>
Where: Mill Pond, Austin.
When: May 19. Meet at 2 p.m. for prayer vigil coordinated by Community Against Bullying and Desperate Tears, followed by the walk.
Why: To raise money and support for the Ehmke family, and to bring awareness to suicide and bullying.
Details: The event is free; no need to sign up. Bracelets are being sold for $3; car window stickers for $7 apiece. They will both read: “Stop bullying now. Rachel Ehmke 1998-2012.” Donations also will be accepted.</td>
Ehmke was able to see her sister at Saint Marys Hospital before she died Sunday. She noticed Rachel’s nails, which she was happy to have had painted just a week before.
“I just wish she would have known that this is not what had to happen,” she said.
The Ehmke family lost a sister and a daughter. “It’s not fair at all,” Ehmke said, listing the things her little sister will never get to experience: prom, having kids, getting married, driving.
She said she does not have sympathy for the girls who bullied Rachel; she has anger toward them. However, she also said she does not want anything bad for them — and her sister wouldn’t want that either.
“She would not want this to keep going,” she said. “We just want anybody that is bullying just to stop. Rachel would want the girls that did this to be left alone.”
Part of why Ehmke spoke at the meeting was prevention. She said she’ll do anything to talk about her sister to prevent other families from losing a daughter. She said she hopes it’s an eye-opener, and if people view bullying as something normal, “it’s not acceptable.”
Community Against Bullying Chairwoman Danielle Borgerson-Nesvold called Rachel’s death “a horrible tragedy.” This makes it clear that the group needs to push its efforts farther than just Austin, she said.
“There’s such a huge need,” Borgerson-Nesvold said. “It’s life-saving. It’s like life support.”
Rachel’s death wasn’t like cancer or a car accident, Ehmke said. It was something that could have been prevented. She told group members to talk to their kids about bullying.
“I want to do everything I can to share my story about Rachel,” she said. “I will be fighting for my little sister.”