I am beyond saddened by this news story in yesterday’s Toronto Star. A 9 year old girl in Calgary, a recent legal arrival to our country from Syria, has committed suicide. The paper reports:
A Calgary Syrian refugee family is dealing with the tragic death of their 9-year-old daughter, who they say died by suicide after being bullied at school.
Aref Alshteiwi discovered his daughter Amal’s body March 6, according to Sam Nammoura, co-founder of Calgary Immigrant Support Society. Nammoura has worked with the family, and details of Amal’s death were relayed to him by the parents.
Police conducted more than a dozen interviews following Amal’s death, and found no evidence of foul play, according to Calgary Police Service media relations.
The family escaped war in Syria more than three years ago as government-sponsored refugees.
Amal’s parents told Nammoura that Amal had been coming home from school upset, telling them she was being bullied. She had been fine until around six months ago, they told him, when she moved to a new school and began having issues in math. Nammoura said they told him that’s when the bullying started — Amal was called stupid and ugly on a daily basis by several classmates.
The parents told Nammoura they raised the issue with the school, but that their daughter didn’t get any help. She went to school happy, they told him, and came home sad. However, Nammoura wasn’t aware of the issues Amal was having until after she died.
In an emailed statement, the Calgary Board of Education said it is working with the school’s staff and students “to try to understand if there were concerns or issues.”
“The school is closely working with both students and families to heal from this tragic event and come together as a community,” the statement read.
The family eventually moved schools to try to get Amal away from the bullying. Before she left, Nammoura said Amal was told by her bullies that moving wouldn’t fix anything.
Four days after she switched schools, Amal’s father found the girl dead in her room.