13-year-old Michigan boy who was relentlessly bullied for his weight, glasses and braces kills himself
Michael Martin ended his life after neither the school nor the transportation authorities intervened to stop the bullying despite his mother's efforts to warn them
A teenage Michigan boy killed himself after he was relentlessly bullied at his high school and on the bus ride to and from school. 13-year-old Michael Martin attempted to take his life on January 23 this past month and was taken off life support two days later at 3:20 pm and his mother has squarely placed the blame on the school district and the bus transportation authorities for failing to take action despite numerous requests.
According to the Daily Mail, Martin, who was an eighth-grader at the Everett High School in Lansing, was bullied for his weight, glasses, and braces, with the bullying getting so bad that the 13-year-old began skipping out on classes.
His mother, Joanna Wohlfert, said she contacted both the school, as well as Dean Transportation who were responsible for student safety during bus rides, multiple times through emails and calls, but that neither took any action to resolve the bullying.
In an interview with the Lansing State Journal, she said, "I know that some schools are overwhelmed with kids, but if you have a parent that’s reaching out to you, and trying to get help for their child, why wouldn’t you reach back? Why wouldn’t you do something? He was going through a dark time and nobody cared. Nobody paid attention to him."
There were obvious signs that all was not well for Martin either. Attendance records obtained by Wohlfert showed her son had begun skipping out on classes as early as September, close to four months before the 13-year-old's suicide.
From September, the eighth-grader missed classes with such regularity, that he would end up skipping out on a total of six weeks of school. And despite the district's policies requiring excessive absences "be investigated by school district personnel" even when verified by a parent or guardian, neither Everett nor the school district took steps to do so.
Wohlfert said Michael stopped attending classes altogether in December if she wasn't at home to make sure he got on to the school bus every morning. The mother said, in early January, she went and talked to Assistant Principal Priscilla Ellis about her son's regular absences and struggles with bullying. "She said, 'Well, it’s not that I forgot about him… Let me see what I can do.' Then I never heard anything from her."
Email exchanges with school counselor Jennifer West where Wohlfert repeatedly reiterated her son needed help proved to be ineffective as well. West said in replies that she had tried to talk to the teen but that he would not acknowledge her, with the mother suspecting it was because he was afraid of backlash from the bullies if he gave his name out.
On January 23, the day Michael tried to take his life, Wohlfert said she took her son to see a doctor and that he was prescribed anti-depressants. But it would be too little too late. Following the news of his suicide, a Facebook post made by a family friend described the 13-year-old as "a kind kid who loved school" and that "learning was something he genuinely enjoyed."
The Lansing Police have said they are investigating the bullying which prompted Michael to commit suicide. The Lansing School District said they were "heartbroken over the tragic loss of Michael Martin" and that they are engaged in a "comprehensive and on-going investigation" of their own.