Bethany Thompson was left with an off-center smile after suffering nerve damage during a procedure to remove a tumor related to her battle with brain cancer. Eight years after defeating the cancer, the 11-year-old Ohio girl shot and killed herself after what her parents believe was relentless bullying over her smile.
Bethany rode the school bus on Oct. 19 with a friend and shared that she planned to kill herself later that day.
“She told her she loved her and that she was her best friend forever, but that she was going to kill herself when she got home,” Wendy Feucht, Bethany’s mother, told The Columbus Dispatch.
Once Bethany arrived at her home in Cable, she found a loaded handgun on an upper shelf, went to the back porch and shot herself. The Columbus Dispatch reported that it was unclear who owns the gun.
Feucht and Bethany’s father, Paul Thompson, both questioned whether bullying at school may have contributed to their daughter’s death. Feucht, who is divorced from Thompson, said her daughter’s friend told her that a group of classmates picked on the girls relentlessly that week.
“I think that she was just done. She didn’t feel like anybody could do anything to help her,” Feucht, 34, told The Columbus Dispatch. “People need to know that even the littlest things can break someone.”
Feucht told the newspaper that her daughter had created anti-bullying posters, but an administrator prevented her from displaying them because they weren’t positive.
“I’m sure she felt pretty defeated,” Feucht told The Columbus Dispatch.
Bethany’s suicide isn’t the first for Triad Middle School— four years ago a 12-year-old boy killed himself. Triad Local Superintendent Chris Piper acknowledged bullying behavior against Bethany last year, but declined to provide details, saying the matter was resolved.
“There was no evidence of a pattern of bullying this year,” Piper told the newspaper, adding that efforts are underway to address bullying.