School knew of girl’s cyberbullying struggles

Teachers of the 13-year-old girl who is believed to have killed herself in central Sweden last week knew she was being bullied, according to her friends and family.

School knew of girl's cyberbullying struggles

The girl died after stepping in front of a passing train last week near Kumla, 15 kilometres south of Örebro.

Police began to suspect the teen’s death was a suicide after learning she had been subjected to cyberbullying.

“Everyone knew about it but nobody did anything. The teachers turned a blind eye. They should have supported her more,” a friend of the deceased girl told the Nerikes Allehande newspaper (NA).

Bullying at the girl’s school, the Vialundskolan, is a common practice according to the father of another girl who left the school after she too became a victim of bullying.

The father has now joined forces with other parents to report the school to Sweden’s Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen).

“I already knew she had problems,” the man told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, referring to his own daughter.

He added that many other students are bullied at the school, yet no staff members seem to react.

“It can be anything from ‘You’ve got an ugly haircut’ to much worse things.”

The school’s headmaster refused to acknowledge that staff members were aware of any bullying towards the deceased 13-year-old.

Police officers have launched an investigation into the girl’s death. They initially suspected a 15-year-old boy of tormenting the victim online, but have since adjusted the focus of their investigation.

“The case of the 15-year-old boy has gone cold. We have got new indications and other suspects,” investigator Mikael Nyqvist told NA.

Sexual harassment, making illegal threats, and illegal coercion are among the possible crimes with which any guilty party may be charged.

The prosecutor, meanwhile, has promised swift action if details of the harassers emerge.

“If we get a suspect then we’ll publish their nickname immediately, but not at this stage”, prosecutor Pia Åsberg told the paper.

Sweden’s Schools Inspectorate held a crisis meeting on Wednesday morning and will launch an investigation into the school and its procedures for dealing with bullying.

A spokesperson from the inspectorate said that there has been a “lack of leadership” at the school for years.

TT/The Local/og

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Suicides increasing amongst Swedish youth

Over 1,500 people took their own lives in Sweden in 2017, 149 of whom were between the ages of 15 and 24.

Suicides increasing amongst Swedish youth
File photo: Isabell Höjman/TT
Each year, researchers at the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health (NASP) at Karolinska Institutet (KI) take a close look at the suicide statistics from Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare. This year, they found a worrying trend. Suicide amongst 15 to 24-year-olds has increased since the 1990s. 
Although the figures don’t show a massive change, there is nonetheless cause for concern. 
“If there is an increasing trend, it is an important signal that things are developing in the wrong direction,” KI researcher Gergö Hadlaczky said.
“We now have enough data to analyze trends and we’ve found a small but significant increase among young people's suicides from around 1994 to 2017. The increase is just under one percent per year,” Hadlaczky continued. 
Although one percent per year may not sound like a big jump, he called the increase “serious”. 
Going the wrong way
The number of suicides in Sweden fell sharply in the late 1980s and 1990s but after 2000, the decrease levelled off within the general population and stop declining altogether amongst younger people. For several years in the 2000s, the youth suicide rate held constant but the trend now appears to be heading in the wrong direction. 
“It is very difficult to determine a trend but we have done three different analyses and we feel convinced,” Hadlaczky said. 
The researcher said that it hadn’t been possible to determine a definitive trend until the volume of data reached a sufficient point this year.
Researchers said they could not yet pinpoint the reasons behind the increasing youth suicide numbers, as there has not yet been a study conducted to look at the possible explanations for the increase. 
“We have no current plans for a larger study but now I think there is ample reason to apply for funds to investigate why we are seeing this increase,” Hadlaczky said. 
In 2017, 1,544 people took their own lives in Sweden. Of those, 1,063 were men while 541 were women. There were 149 suicides amongst the 15 to 24 age group and eight children under the age of 14 took their own lives. 
Suicide is the leading cause of death among men aged 15 to 44 in Sweden. 
The charity group Suicide Zero has tried to push the Swedish government into committing more resources to suicide prevention. In an opinion piece published in Dagens Nyheter last year, the group pointed out that the roughly 1,500 people who take their own lives in Sweden each year is around six times higher than the number of people who die in traffic accidents but suicide prevention research only receives around three million kronor ($368,700) in state finances each year, while traffic safety research receives between 100 and 150 million kronor ($12.2-18.4 million) from the state.
“If suicide prevention work is to be effective, it is necessary to have a plan and allocate resources in all municipalities as well as county councils nationally,” Suicide Zero's general secretary Alfred Skogberg and coordinator Lotta Ekdahl wrote.