Ashlynn Conner, a 10-year-old girl from Ridge Farm, Illinois, who was a cheerleader and honour student at her school, killed herself after a torment of bullies.
Ashlynn Conner’s mother, Stacy, said she knew about the bullying, but never thought it would drive her daughter to kill herself.
Stacy Conner, said she had planned to meet with the school principal this week after Ashlynn complained she was being taunted by schoolmates who called her fat, ugly and worse.
The mother told WCIA-TV: “They’d call her a slut. Ashlynn’s ugly. She’s fat.”
“I thought my kids are strong kids, and that my words for them for guidance and advice was going to have more weight than what these kids could be saying.”
On Thursday, Ashlynn Conner pleaded with her mother to allow her to be home schooled to escape Ridge Farm Elementary – and the mother refused.
On Friday, Ashlynn Conner was dead, having hanged herself. She was found in a closet, hanging by a scarf. Her teenaged sister made the grim discovery.
Now, Ashlynn Conner’s grief-stricken family hopes that her story will make a difference in the lives of other children who are bullied.
Grief counselors, social workers and school psychologists spoke with Ashlynn’s classmates at Georgetown Ridge Farm Elementary School in Georgetown, Ill.
“We’ve had death before due to accidents and illness but nothing like this,” said Kevin Tate, interim superintendent of Georgetown-Ridge Farm Schools.
Kevin Tate is also a neighbor, who lives two houses away from Ashlynn’s family. He is one of many in this small town trying to cope with the news. “She had just come over last week. She seemed like a happy-go-lucky, good-natured girl. I just can’t get a handle on it.”
Ashlynn Conner’s aunt, Kim Wright, told ABC News: “If she just saves one child from being bullied, if one bully gets this message and thinks about it and says, I’m not going to make another kid feel that way … she did it.”
Ashlynn Conner’s death is the latest in a startling trend.
Two months ago, Jamey Rodemeyer, a bullied teen from Buffalo, New York, was found dead outside his home.
The 14-year-old was a big fan of Lady Gaga and sent her a message on Twitter saying: “Bye mother monster, thank you for all you have done, paws up forever,” before he killed himself.
Moved by his death, Lady Gaga performed her song “Hair” a few days after Jamey Rodemeyer’s death and dedicated it to him.
Eight-year-old Tori Blair Wilson hanged herself from a tree in May just 80 yards from her home in Palestine, Texas. Investigators believe she was bullied at school but failed to find specific culprits.
In March, Chevonea Kendall-Bryan, 13, fell 60 feet to her death in London after being hounded by other girls outside of school.
Perhaps the most high-profile cyber-bullying related death was that of Tyler Clementi last year. The 18-year-old Rutgers student from New Jersey plunged to his death from New York’s George Washington Bridge after his gay sex session was allegedly filmed by his roommate.