Police Investigate Suicide of 10-Year-Old Ashlynn Conner: Bullied to Death?
By Barbara Pinto | ABC News – Tue, Nov 15, 2011
More than 100 people attended a prayer service last night in memory of 10-year-old Ashlynn Conner, an Illinois
fifth grader who took her life on Friday. Police are investigating whether bullying caused the young honor student
to commit suicide.
Her mom, Stacy Conner, said she had planned to meet with the school principal this week after Ashlynn
complained she was being taunted by schoolmates who called her fat, ugly and worse.
“She was called a slut in school and she came home and told me she didn’t even know what that word meant,”
said Stacy Conner. “I didn’t tell her what that word meant. She’s too young to know what that word means.”
Grief counselors, social workers and school psychologists spoke with Ashlynn’s classmates at Georgetown Ridge
Farm Elementary School in Georgetown, Ill.
“We’ve had death before due to accidents and illness but nothing like this,” said Kevin Tate, interim
superintendent of Georgetown-Ridge Farm Schools. Tate is also a neighbor, who lives two houses away from
Ashlynn’s family. He is one of many in this small town trying to cope with the news. “She had just come over last
week. She seemed like a happy-go-lucky, good-natured girl. I just can’t get a handle on it.”
Two weeks ago, the taunting got so bad that Ashlynn reportedly asked her mother if she could be home-
schooled. The following day, Ashlynn was found in a closet, hanging by a scarf. Her teenaged sister made the
Preliminary autopsy results indicate a death by hanging, but Vermillion County Coroner Peggy Johnson said the
investigation is in its infancy. “We’re still putting all of the pieces together,” she said, “since bullying was brought to
our attention, we need to dig deeper into that.”
Vermillion County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn said his department is investigating whether Ashlynn may have been
bullied through email, text messages and Twitter.
Tate said his school district has strict policies and zero-tolerance when it comes to bullying, but in light of Ashlynn’
s death, they’ll re-examine their procedures. ”This should be a wake -up call for parents, and for all of us,” he
Ashlynn’s mother describes her daughter as always smiling and always going out of her way to help others. Stacy
Conner recalls one instance when “she brings this bag down the hall just dragging it down the hallway,” said Stacy
Conner, “they were her clothes and she wanted them to go to Haiti because they needed them more than she did.”
In her death, Ashlynn is still helping others. Her family has donated her organs to at least three recipients.
Ashylynn’s aunt, Kim Wright, hopes by coming forward in the midst of her family’s grief, Ashlynn’s story can save
other children struggling with the taunts of bullies.
“If she just saves one child from being bullied, if one bully gets this message and thinks about it and says, I’m not
going to make another kid feel that way … she did it,” said Wright.
A 10-year-old's 'gut-wrenching' suicide: Is bullying to blame?
By The Week's Editorial Staff | The Week – Thu, Nov 17, 2011
Parents in a small town in Illinois suspect their young daughter, Ashlynn Conner, took her own life after enduring
years of bullying.
Ten-year-old Ashlynn Conner was described as a "happy go lucky" fifth grader who was always smiling and
thinking of others. But, last Friday, she was found dead of an apparent suicide, just a day after complaining to her
mother of being bullied by classmates and asking to be home-schooled. Here, a brief guide to her "tragic... gut-
Who was Ashlynn Conner?
She was one of 23 fifth-graders at Ridge Farm Elementary in Ridge Farm, Ill., a small town (pop. 900) surrounded
by corn and soybean fields. An honor roll student, Ashlyn was described by a neighbor as a "good-natured girl."
She hoped to be a veterinarian.
How did she die?
Last Friday, her sister found her unconscious and hanging by a knitted scarf in her closet, dead from an apparent
suicide. The day before, Ashlynn had come from school in tears after being teased by some girls at school, a
pattern that had apparently intensified in the last two weeks, leading Ashlynn to ask to be home-schooled. Her
mom told her daughter that she would meet with the school principal to discuss the matter on Monday.
How was she bullied?
Ashlynn had suffered through classmates calling her "fat and ugly" and a "slut" (a term unfamiliar to her; she
asked her mother to explain it). Ashlynn's 19-year-old cousin, Heidi Paree, says the bullying began years ago,
recalling an incident in which Ashlynn got a short haircut around the time that youth-football cheerleading trials
were held. "They said she looked like a boy, 'Who's that boy over there?' That kind of thing," Paree recalls. "It
really upset her." The local sheriff is investigating the role of bullying in Ashlynn's suicide and questioning
students believed to have been involved in the bullying.
How can parents find out if their child is being bullied?
"If you notice a change in your child's behavior — such as moodiness, trouble sleeping, or a drop in grades —
think of bullying as a possible cause," says Dr. Peter Raffalli, a Children's Hospital Boston neurologist. Ask
children about both bullying and cyber-bullying. Become involved in your kids' online life from early age — before
middle school — so that they get used to being monitored from an early age. If you suspect your child is being
bullied, involve the school. "Make sure the school assigns a 'safe adult' for your child, someone confidential they
can turn to — and make sure you know what the school is doing to keep your child safe."