Death of MAUMS student under investigation
BENNINGTON -- Bennington Police officers are investigating the apparent suicide of a 12-year-old female Mount Anthony Union Middle School student that occurred over the weekend.
According to Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette, the female student, whose name was not released, died Saturday night en route to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, after her parents reported an incident to Bennington police at approximately 7:30 p.m.
MAUMS Principal Tim Payne addressed the issue through a letter sent home to parents of all students on Wednesday afternoon. However, in his letter, the date of the student's death differed.
"We can confirm the sad news that a student at Mount Anthony Union Middle School died by suicide on Monday, October 14, 2013. Our school based crisis team has been working to support all of our students and staff. We plan to continue meeting with staff and checking in with specific students as needed.
"Whenever a student dies, especially unexpectedly, students and adults react in different ways. We have repeatedly told our students that whatever their reaction to this news that it is okay. We have encouraged our students to seek out adults that they trust when they have feelings that are overwhelming or uncomfortable."
Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union Superintendent Catherine McClure said Wednesday that she is pleased with the action taken by staff thus far to support the students in this difficult time and that resources will continue to be available, both through district personnel and via qualified counselors from community agencies.
Payne also noted in the letter that students are being encouraged to find a trusted adult when they are feeling concerned about their peers and their reactions to this recent event.
"Our goal in responding to these events are to support our students and communicate clearly with our school community," he wrote. "We have put supports in place for our students and we encourage families to visit our school website for resources in dealing with difficult conversations with your student."
McClure said she would be adding said resources to the SVSU website, www.svsu.net.
When asked whether bullying was being considered as a possible cause for the suicide, Doucette said, "I don't believe this was a direct result of bullying, but we are looking at several different factors."
Neither McClure nor Payne would comment on any perceived cause for the student's suicide.
Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @bethconkey.
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