An open letter written by an Ohio high school student suggests that school officials may be partly to blame for the suicide death of a sophomore student.
According to Hank Sigel, he, Hayden Long and other students were “verbally attacked” by school officials and police after being accused of smelling like marijuana at their homecoming dance, Fox 43 reported.
In an open letter that has been circulating throughout social media, Sigel claims school officials and a police officer told Hayden that he “ruined his life.” The group of students were also allegedly told that they “would fail their classes, had ruined their academic careers, and had made the biggest mistake of their life.”
Long committed suicide shortly after the incident at the dance, and Sigel is convinced that the encounter with police and school officials had something to do with it.
A petition calling for action to be taken against the officer and school officials involved has gotten more than 4,000 signatures. The petition, written by a John Doe on Change.org, states:
“A student that went to Geneva High School killed himself October 5th of 2015. This student was with some people during the homecoming dance at the Spire Institute that smelled like Marijuana. Hank Sigel wrote a letter which quickly spread over social media that explained how this student was told by Officer Gonzalez of Geneva Police Department, and the two principals of the high school that he had ruined his academic career, he would fail his classes and so on.
"This tragedy has barely opened up the eyes of Geneva school officials, because these principals are still working for Geneva Schools. It took a suicide of a student for programs to be provided for suicide, depression and other mental illnesses to take place in the school. If these principals had used a more [mature] and professional approach towards disciplining the student, he would most likely be still alive.
"These principals need to pay for their actions, so if you agree please sign this and share it. This petition will be shown to [Superintendent] Eric Kujala of Geneva Area City Schools once a large amount of signatures have been obtained. This petition is not associated with the Family of the student in this description. This petition is the for the public and all signatures are anonymously presented. Thank you so much for your support.”
The district responded to the suicide with their own letter to the community. The letter reads:
“This is a devastating loss for so many. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and ‘we’ as a district and community support the family in every way. We sympathize with them for their loss and understand this is a very difficult time. Our focus right now is on the grieving process of the family students, staff, and community.”
Counseling will be provided for students at Geneva High School and the school’s football game has been canceled for this week.