The crooked smile girl killed herself


November 1, 2016 (NEWSER) – An 11-year-old girl who beat cancer as a preschooler killed herself last month after what mom Wendy Feucht describes as unceasing bullying, CNN reports. Bethany Thompson, a sixth-grader in Cable, Ohio, had been free of cancer after undergoing radiation therapy for a brain tumor at the age of 3, but the treatments marred her nerves, leaving her with a “crooked” smile. That, along with her curly hair, led to the bullying against Bethany, particularly by a certain group of boys—and on Oct. 19, after telling her best friend she was going to end her life, Bethany hunted for and found a loaded handgun on a high shelf inside her family’s home and shot herself before her friend’s father could contact Bethany’s mom, says Paul Thompson, Bethany’s dad, per the Columbus Dispatch.

Triad Middle School was aware of the bullying—the school’s superintendent confirmed with CNN that it “investigated a complaint raised by the student and appropriately resolved the same”—with Feucht noting she had had a conversation with the principal about it just a few days earlier. She says she found out that Bethany, who saw a counselor to help her deal with self-esteem issues, and her friends had even crafted anti-bullying signs but were prohibited by at least one school administrator from displaying them. “I’m sure she felt pretty defeated,” Feucht tells the Dispatch. “I’ve had this constant in my life for 12 years and now it’s gone,” she adds to CNN. “Nothing’s going to be able to fill that hole.” (A 13-year-old Staten Island boy who killed himself in August left behind a note on bullying.)

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She was eleven.

Eleven years old.

And she killed herself.

How does an eleven-year-old come to the point of wanting to die?

I cannot imagine any way that a young child could kill herself. And to do it with a gun.

The violence of the shot. The violation to the body. The grief it took to pull the trigger.

But she did it.

Bethany Thompson shot herself to death.

This precious human being is dead because her peers treated her as anything but.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I am not naive. I know that children will be mean. Insensitive. Uncaring. Rarely or never grasping the hurt their words and actions cause to those on the receiving end.

Sticks and stones might break our bones.  Words can kill us.

Words killed Bethany Thompson.

To reading, writing, and arithmetic, let’s add empathy, and compassion, and the Golden Rule.

Let’s start at home with the empathy, the compassion, and the Golden Rule.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Imagine the child, who is disfigured by illness. By accident. By birth defect.

Imagine the child, who is morbidly obese. Who wears Coke-bottle glasses. Who has flaming red hair and freckles to match.  Who is slow.  Or the brainiac. The oddball. The freak. The square peg.

Imagine the child, whose family cannot afford what all the others are wearing. Whose clothes are too small. Ratty. Shabby. The same shirt and pants, day after day. Who hasn’t been able to bathe. Who smells.

Imagine the child, who doesn’t identify with his or her birth sex. With the way he or she has to socialize and the awkwardness it causes. With his or her doing the wrong thing according to what the majority is doing. And it is obvious to the rest of the kids.

Imagine the five-year-old. Imagine the eleven-year-old. Imagine the sixteen-year-old.

Who doesn’t fit in.

Who is left out. Called out. Worn out.

Looking for a way out.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Imagine the hell.

The hell of not fitting in.

The hell of the snarky comments. Unwanted.  Uncalled for.  Unending.  Unbearable snarky comments.

The bullying.

Always, the bullying.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If we think it is fine and dandy that our children are treated so horribly that they kill themselves, then don’t change a thing. We Americans are a grand success story.

If you would never want it to be your child on the sliced-and-diced end of teases and taunts . . .

Of course, you would never want it to be your child.

Or you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Bethany Thompson should have been a success story—beating cancer as a preschooler! Instead, her parents and family and true friends are left with the deepest of holes in their hearts.

And we, her American family, have lost a sister. Someone who, when she grew up, surely would have helped us learn how to cope with and defeat and survive the worst of situations. We lost the gifts that she would have provided for the good of her family and community.

We all won when Bethany was healed from the cancer. We all lost when she died at her own hand.

It is time to turn this loss into a win for every child who might be so hurt by the sticks and stones of classmates.

Who hurt so deeply that being dead sounds better than being alive. Than one more day of being hated.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Eleven-year-old girls and boys are supposed to be enjoying life. Pondering their teens. Dreaming of dating. Being silly. Carefree. Cared for. Growing up.

Eleven–year-old girls and boys are supposed to have their lives stretched out before them. Not recorded in an obituary.

Not at their own hand.

Not because of the hatred shown to them by their peers.


4 thoughts on “The crooked smile girl killed herself

  1. it is simply heartbreaking. my empathic soul wants to just shut down. but in real time, i know this is a huge issue we are facing as humans. how is it in todays world when we have so many self help books, life coaches, mentor and counselors that this seems to be at an all time high. where is the link.

    “And we, her American family, have lost a sister. Someone who, when she grew up, surely would have helped us learn how to cope with and defeat and survive the worst of situations. We lost the gifts that she would have provided for the good of her family and community.”

    rarely do i hear that kind of looking ahead. i am having a hard time finding the correct words. but the worth that has been left behind, the worth within ourselves that never shines simply because we can’t be kind to one another. it is just crushing. yet we have to listen to these stories so that we can prevent them down the road. time to open our eyes and pay attention. to take more action.

    thank you for sharing.


  2. I cried reading your thoughts, Kelly.

    I never was the bullied one. I fit in so well, everywhere. My entire life. Until recently. And while I hope I’ve always been as you describe yourself, empathetic, this has exploded in me. If we will not stand with those who are constantly knocked down, who will?

    I would immediately take a presidential appointment as Love Each Other Czar (no matter the president!).


  3. G,

    “If we think it is fine and dandy that our children are treated so horribly that they kill themselves, then don’t change a thing.”

    As one who was bulled or a while in school, I know it hurts. And I liked a lot in your post. I guess I just wonder about statements like the above one though. What percentage of people do you think actually thinks that way?



    1. N,

      One friend commented that the problem begins at home. Children speak to and treat others largely as their parents model speech and behavior. I understand that my statement goes over the top – it would be rare to hear anyone agree with my “fine and dandy” assessment – yet, when people find nothing wrong in their hateful/prejudicial/judging/make-fun-of-others-who-are-different speech and actions – and I would argue that far too many find nothing wrong in themselves – then they are implicitly saying their words and behaviors are fine and dandy.

      And, even more, if one kills her- or himself as a result, well, they just couldn’t take a joke.



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