Braylee Shae Rice, a 14-year-old seventh-grader at McCulloch Junior High school in Marion, Indiana, was found dead today on school grounds of an apparent suicide. Here's what we know about this tragic breaking story.
1. She Hanged Herself with a Neck Tie
13 WTHR Indianapolis
According to reports, a group of students and a teacher discovered Rice hanging from a necktie on the outdoor bleachers. She was found at 10:17 a.m. and had last been seen at 8:45, according to reports.
2. She Snuck Away During a Test
[She]snuck away from the gym during a break from ISTEP testing and used a necktie she regularly wore to hang herself on the bleachers near the track. School administrators admit they aren't sure how she snuck away. Her fellow students say it's all they talked about during lunch hour.
3. Many Claim Braylee Was Bullied & the School Failed to Help Her
The official word from cops is that there is no indication at this time that bullying was a factor in Braylee's death.
Marion Deputy Police Chief Cliff Sessoms told Heavy.com:
We've heard those same rumors and there's been nothing reported to the school. However we're still interviewing people. But, at this time, there's nothing to indicate that she was getting bullied at the time. However, the investigation is still under way.
But Braylee's former babysitter told Heavy.com:
There were five kids total that were telling her to go kill herself ... and throwing water bottles at her. Kids bullied her constantly.
Asked about whether bullying was a problem at the school, Lindsay Harrington, a former student, told Heavy.com:
I did tell administration about it multiple times and they did nothing at all. I was actually told by the [then-]principal ... that "if i came to her office one more time, i'd be suspended because she was tired of seeing me." My mother came and still no justice. I was constantly met at my locker by a group of girls; it always led to a physical altercation and I was always suspended even though it was self-defense. They told me to walk away even if I was being hit in the back of my head. Mobs of girls would show up to my house to jump me multiple times. I would be met in public wherever I went by different mobs, and when I'd get in the car they'd beat and bang on the door yelling at me to open it. I have heard stories about administration ignoring bullying; I've witnessed it myself.
On Facebook, numerous comments are blaming bullying and blaming the school:
4. Last Week, a "Teacher" Posted About the School's "Harsh" Methods
An anonymous review of the school by a "teacher" posted May 2, 2013, on GreatSchools.org alleges the school is mishandling student issues:
They implement harsh discipline policies that don't work. Classroom management at McCulloch means yelling, threatening, shaming, and disapproving. They don't recognize students as people or as individuals and a lot of students feel bad about coming to a school where they're not supported. The school and the school system could make more efforts to understand and address the real life issues of disadvantaged students. This school needs to recognize the racial and other intolerances that pervade the school and take some initiative to EDUCATE students, staff, parents, and the community about bullying prevention.
—Submitted by a teacher
An earlier review on the same site, this one from September 2006, warns of bullying at the school:
I would not recommend this school to anyone, especially if your child is the type of child that gets bullied at all. My child is of athletic stature and tall for his age and still has to put up with bullying and snide remarks every day. the time between classes has been cut to help control the hallway problems, so now there isn't enough time to go to the bathroom in between classes and a lot of teachers won't give passes. (I wonder why? Discipline problems maybe!) The teachers seem to be trying their best but the principle himself seems petty about certain things. He insists that the students call him 'Dr', correcting them in a rude manner when they call him Mr. by mistake. All of this initiated from the fact that some of the students pride themselves in being trouble- makers and interrupting the flow of education. Thank you all!
—Submitted by a parent
Heavy.com emailed the school principal but has yet to hear back.
5. Braylee Was "Sweet and Caring"
Braylee's former babysitter told Heavy.com:
She was so sweet and caring. She put everyone in front of herself. if you had a problem she fixed it before she dealt with her own. Braylee was just strong for too long.
6. She Was on the Honor Roll
This school news release (above) listing the third-quarter honor roll includes Braylee among those receiving the highest ("A") honors.
Last year, Braylee won an honorable mention for her artwork in a student Christmas contest:
7. She Was "Different"
Braylee's former babysitter tells Heavy.com that Braylee was bullied because ...
Since about third grade, because other students said she was "different." Because she chose to dress in black and wear a tight neck rope — which she hung herself with — and she wore dark eyeliner.
8. School Was Not Dismissed
Despite Braylee's suicide, the school remained in session today.
According to IndianaNewsCenter.com:
The Assistant Police Chief of Marion and Superintendent of Marion Community Schools said they didn't dismiss school because they feared a large majority of students may be going home to an empty house. Parents who requested to pick up their children were allowed to do so.
9. Teen Suicide is a Major Problem in Indiana and Across the Country
A survey revealed that 11.7% of Indiana youth had gone as far as to construct a plan to commit suicide; that is ONE out of every EIGHT. More than 55,000 Indiana youth are projected to make a plan over the next 12 months.
ONE out of every 14 of Indiana's youth, or 7.2%, attempted suicide in the past 12 months and more than 34,000 are projected to make an attempt in the next 12 months.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, a 2007 study found that suicide was the third most common cause of death among American 15- to 24-year-olds. The numbers read:
Children ages 10 to 14 — 0.9 per 100,000
Adolescents ages 15 to 19 — 6.9 per 100,000
Young adults ages 20 to 24 — 12.7 per 100,000
Those in the 10-14 category were much more likely to use suffocation to commit suicide; this includes hanging.
10. There's a Facebook Page Dedicated to Her Memory and a Facebook Group