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Posted on Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 7:52 p.m.

Dexter school district assisting students following apparent suicide of eighth-grader

By Kyle Feldscher

The Dexter school district has activated its crisis response team after an eighth-grader who attended Mill Creek Middle School committed suicide Sunday, officials said.

School officials are available to assist students and staff in expressing their grief and educating them on suicide prevention, Principal Jami Bronson said in an e-mail to parents.

No further information was released on the circumstances of the student’s death.

Interim Superintendent Mary Marshall said Monday was a tough day in the district, and the most important thing was having staff informed of the situation to properly care for students' needs.

"Our grief is great, and our hearts and support go out to the family," she said in a statement. "Our crisis team has been assembled to support our students, staff, and to do whatever we can to both support the family and respect their privacy during this very difficult time."

School officials issued a statement to students at the school Monday, emphasizing the need to come together in a time of tragedy. The statement also encouraged students to speak with support staff if they feel the need.

The crisis response team consists of all building principals and administrators, nurses, counselors, the district psychologist and liaison officers, along with any other officials who are needed, Marshall said. The district is constantly re-evaluating the level of support needed for students, she said.

"We certainly had people there using the teams today," she said. "It evolves as the day goes on and we respond as necessary."

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at



Thu, Nov 11, 2010 : 11:34 p.m.

Rest in peace, Sean. I didn't personally know you, but I hope you're up there with God smiling down on those who cared about you, which were tons of people. I drove past your viewing on my way home today.. And there were soo many people. I wish you would've known how much you meant to people before you ended your life. I don't know if you were bullied and just couldn't take it anymore, but I wish you could've known there were soo many more options. I went through lots of drama so I'm doing my senior year all online now. There is ALWAYS people that care. Always. I didn't even know you, and I care. I wish I could've had the chance to know you, Sean. RIP.


Wed, Nov 10, 2010 : 8:35 p.m.

From my son's friend Miranda in Dexter Schools: This past week has been so difficult with the anniversary of Anna Herter's (one of my close friends) death, and now this is the THIRD person in the last two weeks that has killed themselves. There were two in Pinckney... also, both of which I went to elementary school with and I was pretty good acquaintances with. Now a 13 year old boy from Dexter? What is this world coming to? This needs to be brought to light, people don't just bully homosexuals, they bully whoever they want and it's bringing disastrous consequences.

Bertha Venation

Wed, Nov 10, 2010 : 4:21 p.m.

I totally agree with recordhound and others. I believe the AA.COM staff photos are stock photos, and do not reflect any one particular feeling. This is such a sad situation.


Wed, Nov 10, 2010 : 9:12 a.m.

this is very sad. it's so frustrating as an adult--you wish you could pull these kids aside and explain to them how in the grand scheme of things, nothing is so bad that your life should end. it may seem like it at the time, but to be cliche---tomorrow's another day. i hope these comments by dexter parents are looked into by the school, not just taken as gossip by disgruntled parents.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 11:43 p.m.

recordhound: I have been commenting on these pictures to for several months now, since the first time I saw a grinning picture next to a headline about another tragic suicide. I have been reading print and online papers for several years, and really hoped that this publication would be as professional as others. But the insistence by the mostly young staff that they have to have smiling photos next to articles, or in one case of a young man playing tennis, really reduces the publication to an embarrassingly amateur level. I wish we had a real newspaper with serious journalists. To me, it's a sad commentary on the plummeting of news standards in this country, and of the lack of respect for the news. How would you like your health care professional to deliver tragic news with one of these grins? Or a funeral director to dance into the viewing room with a big grin and a shuffle across the room? Same idea. This isn't a B-rated movie, it is a real tragedy, and journalists have a responsibility to act appropriately.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 8:50 p.m.

Dexter Parent: I really feel for you. I also understand the hypocrasy you see in the school itself. And you are correct - at this age kids are vulnerable - they are not mentally or emotionally mature enough to realize that what is happening right now is only a fraction of their life that will most certainly change once they get out of school. At this point they only see it as their entire future. I know it's a tough decision to intervene - if you do - that can mean more harassment for your son. But if you don't - you feel like you're not doing everything you should as a parent. Perhaps NOW is the time to go to the school and demand that they put an end to the bullying. Are there going to be any group meetings at the school for parents? It's good to bring this stuff up infront of EVERYONE. It puts the school on the spot and it lets the other parents know what's happening at the school. No decent parent condones the bullying of one of the kids - whether it's their kid or someone else's. If you can't do that - go to a school board meeting or a PTA meeting and bring it up. No kid should EVER think that ending their life over what happens in school is their only way out.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 7:53 p.m.

You missed my point entirely. I did not speculate on possible causes/reasons for the eight grader who died. I was speaking from my personal experiences with teens at extremely high risk. Boys who had reached out to their parents for help only to get completely shut down by the Dexter School personnel and administration when their parents asked for help to prevent another death. Instead their policy is to wait till a tragedy occurs, then support the heck out the surviving friends, relatives, and teachers. What about the teen at risk? What do you think will happen when my son, or the other 2 boys at Dexter Schools succeed in ending their lives? The school can not say they "can't speculate on possible reasons", when they know and have been alerted that physical abuse, hazing, and bullying are happening at Dexter Schools right now and the staff is not stepping in to help the kids at risk of suicide. Oh, and the 3 boys I speak of are all special education students. We will have to wait until those boys have had enough, then the school can send in their crisis team and support my family after my son is gone. The tragedy here is the school policy that needs to changed so no one ELSE has to suffer from a young person's suicide. Suicide is preventable if treatment and intervention is given early in the teens crisis.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 5:27 p.m.

It is tempting to speculate on the reason(s) for suicide. But we should not assume that any external reasons (bullying, the pressure to succeed, etc.) contributed to this tragedy. A teenager can suffer from clinical depression just as any adult can. My heart is breaking for the family.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 4:18 p.m.

I have recently heard of 3 different Dexter School kids, all males, that have had expressed to someone that they "didn't want to live anymore", as a reaction to the pear stress and bullying that is allowed to occur at Dexter Schools. I am a parent of one of them. In all 3 cases, the school was alerted and nothing was done. No support, no changes, no interventions, no crisis support team, no counseling. In all 3 cases the families sought expensive psychological help for the boys and painfully tried to help on their own with the bullying problems while the school did nothing. In one case the school would not even get a homework reduction for the boy who spent over a week in the hospital on suicide watch. Now that someone was actually successful with a suicide they want to assemble a big crisis team. I am appalled. In one case the school Psychologist rejected the report from the 2 U of M Psychiatrists who said the boy was under an enormous amount of stress that he could not cope with. What does it take in that school to get some help before a child dies???


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 12:48 p.m.

I cannot fathom a life so painful that a child would want to end it. My heart aches for the child and what he went through before his departure from this life; and my heart aches for those that will suffer the pain of the loss of this child.

Basic Bob

Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

Thanks, Rebbapragada, this is a message we need to hear, no matter what age. Besides suicide, these thoughts drive people to addiction and distorted behavior (things we know inside are wrong but do anyway). Feelings do not kill us unless we act on them. Taking one's own life should never be an option.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 10:29 a.m.

BTW, Stephanie and Kyle? I love the smiles and we need, as a song reminds me so well, put on a happy face and keep smiling even in the grimace of situations here. Thanks for the photos.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

There are a number of factors that drive children to commit suicide or make an attempt on their own lives. Whether it is bullying, genetics, environmental or something really bad is going on in the child's life that he or she feels no one is listening to them. We as a society I believe are not pressuring the children but they feel like we are. I also believe that it is the outside factors that make children wonder why I am here and where do I fit in this whacky world of mine. My sincere condolences to the family ourselves. We too have experienced this in our lives and feel for the families. Good luck to the family and the community.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

Among the resources listed- I'd add the U-M Depression Center located in the East Ann arbor Medical Complex on Plymouth RD, right by the intersection of Plymouth Rd and Earhart Rd. They have a Suicide Prevention program too.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

I agree with recordhound this is such a sad story and annarbor28 is worried about the picture that has? REALLY?? I'm sure they have the picture to show who they are. I guess this shows that no matter what someone has something to complain about it. This is such a sad story and I send my condolence to the family. Such a terrible lose for the family.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

Let me say I am not in any way suggesting by my comments that this had any bearing on this tragedy. But I agree with Momma G. We put so much unreasonable pressure on kids starting in preschool and continuing though high school. This has been the case for many years now. I realize the need for a good education, but society would be better served if we held off on some of that pressure until at least the 9th grade.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 9:01 a.m.

I have to agree with the other posts that the cheerful, folksy photos of the staff seem truly out of place. I don't quite understand why writers have photos with their articles in the first place.


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 8:29 a.m.

Is a smiling staff photo used for every author post really important in any way? Truly the dumbest criticism I've read this week. Let me see if I can find a frownie face avatar for you... Seriously, this is the biggest concern you have regarding such a tragic story?

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 7:51 a.m.

AA NEWS - Perhaps a few words on what to look out for in prevention.... The closer the community, the closer and tighter the community standards - the easier it is to 'feel' the pressure to conform and to feel set aside when all those pressures build. Don't get me wrong, I am not blaming anyone here. But kids need to know - Everyone has a unique gift and everyone has special talents. These gifts are not always apparent and may take years if not decades to show them selves. You have a purpose in your journey - and only You can fulfill it.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 11:01 p.m.

My prayers go out to the parents and rest of the family. I know the pain of living after your precious child dies. Our reasons are different but the pain and loss are the same. Not fair! One minute at a time is the only way to survive.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 10:41 p.m. I still think your smiling pictures next to tragic news is unprofessional for "journalists." I have written several times, including an email to your "chief" and cannot believe that you so vehemently defend the policy of these inappropriate expressions of joy when something like this happens.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 10:07 p.m.

I can't imagine anything more devastating to a parent. I applaud working with the other kids, but at that age they are pretty resilient. I think the parents truly will need the grief counselors for a long time.

Momma G

Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 9:41 p.m.

How sad is that. When are we as a society going to quit putting so much pressure on these children at such an early age - reading in Kdg. instead of learning to socialize, algebra in 4th grade, etc. Get back to the basics in school.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 8:50 p.m.

This is just horribly sad. It's so utterly heartbreaking that any child would ever make such an irreversible choice like that. My heart goes out to his family and his friends.

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 8:16 p.m.

@Caleb- There has been no indication that harassment was involved.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 8:12 p.m.

Very sad. He was one of my little sister's classmates. I would hate to hear that harassment was involved. My love and support goes out to the family and all of the children who are just realizing that all life comes to an end one day.

Urban Sombrero

Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 8:11 p.m.

My heart just bleeds for that family. I have an eighth grader. I just can't imagine...