2nd teen suicide in Polk County linked to school bullying

POLK COUNTY, Tennessee(WDEF) – A female student at Copper Basin Middle and High School becomes the second student to commit suicide this spring as a result of alleged bullying.

Jazmine Harris would have turned 14 on Sunday. Her family was ready to celebrate her birthday with presents and balloons; instead, they spent Sunday planning her funeral.

Two days before her birthday while alone, the teen located her grandfather’s handgun which was reportedly put away. She pointed the weapon at herself and pulled the trigger. Her body was discovered by her grandfather Haril Harris.

"She was laying in a pool of blood with my pistol right by her," the grandfather said as he tried to hold back tears.

Jazmin’s mother told WDEF her daughter’s suicide was a result of ongoing bullying at school from several students. She said the bullying was both verbal and physical.

"Some have told her she need to just go dig a grave; that no one cared about her. In the most recent incident, she was kicked in the knee by a kid after he told her she was fat and worthless," said Angel Harris.

The mom also told WDEF she has repeatedly contacted the principal about her daughter being bullied, but no action was taken. Even the school superintendent admitted the alleged acts of cruelty against Harris had been an ongoing problem.

"The child did experience problems at school and I was in conversation with the mother more than once; so we were working on the situation," said Superintendent Dr. James Jones.

For Copper Basin Middle and High School, Harris’s death has become the second suicide linked to school bullying.

Back in March, Patrick Griffin, 18, shot and killed himself after his family said he had been tormented by bullies at school.

"For it to happen once to a school system is unbelievable; for it to happen twice in the same school is just a tough blow," Jones said.

"As much as I tried to do to help my daughter and as much as I’m sure the other family tried to help their son and nothing was done; something has to be done," Harris’s mother said.

Jones has assured WDEF that going forward, there will be a major crackdown on bullying at all schools in Polk County.

But the Harris family told WDEF the damage is already done. The family is now preparing to file a civil lawsuit against the Polk County School District.

Jazmine’s grandfather has also issued a  stern message for the children who are accused of tormenting his granddaughter.

"Anybody that could give a good-hearted baby like that a hard time; just for their own kicks is just wrong," said the grandfather.

{Jazmine’s mother requested WDEF to show the picture of her daughter in an open casket to illustrate the consequences of bullying. That picture is located in the slideshow.}

Categories: Education, Local News, Polk County

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