1 Ohio school, 4 bullied teens dead at own hand

From Excite News: http://apnews.excite.com/article/20101008/D9INIAEO0.html

Oct 8, 10:05 AM (ET)

By MEGHAN BARR

MENTOR, Ohio (AP) – Sladjana Vidovic’s body lay in an open casket, dressed in the sparkly pink dress she had planned to wear to the prom. Days earlier, she had tied one end of a rope around her neck and the other around a bed post before jumping out her bedroom window.

The 16-year-old’s last words, scribbled in English and her native Croatian, told of her daily torment at Mentor High School, where students mocked her accent, taunted her with insults like “Slutty Jana” and threw food at her.

It was the fourth time in little more than two years that a bullied high school student in this small Cleveland suburb on Lake Erie died by his or her own hand – three suicides, one overdose of antidepressants

One was bullied for being gay, another for having a learning disability, another for being a boy who happened to like wearing pink.

Now two families – including the Vidovics – are suing the school district, claiming their children were bullied to death and the school did nothing to stop it. The lawsuits come after a national spate of high-profile suicides by gay teens and others, and during a time of national soul-searching about what can be done to stop it.

If there has been soul-searching among the bullies in Mentor – a pleasant beachfront community that was voted one of the “100 Best Places to Live” by CNN and Money magazine this year – Sladjana’s family saw too little of it at her wake in October 2008.

Suzana Vidovic found her sister’s body hanging over the front lawn. The family watched, she said, as the girls who had tormented Sladjana for months walked up to the casket – and laughed.

“They were laughing at the way she looked,” Suzana says, crying. “Even though she died.”

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