A California tragedy has seen a 12-year-old commit suicide with his family and friends citing severe bullying as a motivation. More specifically, they claim that young Ronin Shimizu was being bullied for following his passion and becoming a cheerleader.
As reported by the California ABC affiliate KXTX, Shimizu, from Folsom, Calif., killed himself Wednesday after he had been pulled out of school following severe harassment from classmates. He was being homeschooled in the days leading up to his death.
Friends and their parents were quick to support Shimizu after his death, citing his winning personality and expressing profound sadness that he could feel so hopeless.
“He was bullied very badly,” Folsom student Riley Coleman told KXTX. “It’s not okay to bully people.”
Added Folsom parent Stephanie Doherty: “I can’t imagine a child taking it to that level. I’ve had a son that’s been bullied. It’s so scary.”
While we may never know the full extent of the motivations behind Shimizu’s tragic death, one clinical psychologist —Dr. Andrew Mendonsa — anticipated that social media could have played a role in an interview with the California ABC affiliate.
“Once it gets out there, it can be retweeted, or reblogged, or reposted numerous times, and it’s almost exponential that one person because ten, becomes a hundred, becomes a thousand.”
Here are statements from the school and the school district.
Statement from Folsom Middle School Principal John Bliss to parents:
“Dear Folsom Middle families: I’m writing with a heavy heart today. By now you have heard about the tragic death of one of our former students. Ronin Shimizu briefly attended Folsom Middle last year as a sixth-grader, and this news has deeply saddened many of our students and staff who knew him.
Today we have and will continue to provide counseling and support to students and staff who need assistance dealing with their grief. And while do not know all of the circumstances surrounding Ronin’s passing, we will continue our work to maintain a safe, caring and positive school environment free from bullying and harassment.
I encourage you to talk to you child about how they are processing this news, what feelings they may be experiencing and if they need any help. In the meantime, please keep this student’s family in your thoughts during this difficult time. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Principal John Bliss
Folsom Cordova Unified School District statement:
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this unspeakable tragedy, and our hearts go out to Ronin’s family during this difficult time. Many students, teachers and staff who knew Ronin remember him as a positive and outgoing child, and our school communities are truly grieving this loss today. We are moved by the outpouring of support from families and community members asking how they can help.”
Daniel Thigpen, Public Information Officer, Folsom Cordova Unified School District