High school wasn’t easy for 17-year-old Kenneth Suttner.
All of the kids made fun of Kenneth – who was overweight and spoke with a speech impediment.
He was an easy target and Kenneth spent his life trying to tolerate negative words and actions.
But it was only after his tragic death that all the horrific details would be revealed.
The sun had long set Dec. 21, but Kenneth sat on a log outside his house anyway.
The cold didn’t bother him much, not that night.
After placing a few calls to friends and family, he raised a .22 to his head and ended his life.
Early on, police and family suspected that bullying at school and work had contributed in part to his death.
Perhaps the worst alleged offender, though, was Kenneth’s 21-year-old supervisor at the Dairy Queen in Howard County, Missouri, where he worked.
Harley Branham allegedly did everything she could to make Kenneth’s life a hell. Branham had been Suttner’s superior and would force him to clean the floor while lying on his stomach and would bully him.
Allison Bennett, a former co-worker, testified that Branham constantly ridiculed him.
Another employee testified that the manager threw a cheeseburger at Kenneth after he made it incorrectly.
On February 14, a coroner’s jury ruled that his death was caused by involuntary manslaughter – and the person responsible was Harley Branham, 21.
Kenneth’s mom, Angela Suttner, said that the school did not do enough to prevent or remedy bullying against her son, who had mental and physical disabilities.
The jury found that the school district was negligent in not preventing bullying and Dairy Queen was negligent in training its employees.
The Suttner family also released a statement, calling the jury’s decision “justice for Kenny.”
Research from The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that persistent bullying can lead to an increased sense of rejection, isolation, despair, exclusion, anxiety, and depression.
Sadly, all of these behaviors can bring about suicidal ideation. And if we don’t take care of bullying, we’re going to have more of cases like this.
As a mother, the idea that someone can be bullied to the point of wanting to die is terrible to think about.
We as parents have the responsibility to make sure that all children are safe, not just our own.
It may be cliché, but children are our future!
If you are a parent, talk to your children – make sure they are not being bullied or are bullying others.
We all know high school and even middle school are challenging enough, no one deserves to be bullied – ever.
Please share this article on Facebook – if we can get more people to read this and realize how terrible bullying is, we may avoid someone doing the same thing as Kenneth in the future.