BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sue Keith says her daughter, Kristen Appleford, committed suicide in December, 2015. She overdosed, and her mom says she believes her daughter did this because she was bullied.
“When someone is called fat, and ugly…. to hear it day in and day out takes a toll on people. I do believe that bullying did have a part in what happened to my daughter”, Keith told News 4. She wanted to explain the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s death because of the recent attention other parents at South Buffalo Charter School have brought to it.
The parents and students held a rally at the school on Wednesday, accusing school leaders of not doing enough to handle bullying complaints. They pointed to what happened to Kristen as an example of the issue, but Sue doesn’t go that far. “I’m not putting the blame on the school at all. I don’t think that they were aware maybe of what exactly was going on”, Sue explained. She says her daughter kept most of it to herself, and she didn’t realize the extent of it until recently.
Kristen’s younger brother opened up to their mom about the situation, explaining that she would come home crying every day after school. Kristen’s friends have also shared what she was going through with her mom. “I didn’t know the problems were as extreme as what I’ve been hearing. One girl in particular would take pictures of [my daughter] in a bathing suit, which she knew that she was self conscious about her body… just tormenting her”, said Sue about the bullying.
Kristen’s problems go back farther than this year, in the 8th grade at South Buffalo Charter. Her mom says he was cutting herself as a sixth grader, and was depressed. Sue often wonders what she could have done differently; what she could have done to save her, and wishes kids would realize the impact their words and actions can have. “I think the difference with the generation today is that there is social media involved so by the time they leave school, it doesn’t get left at school it follows them through social media. Now they have access to bully the kids behind a computer and behind a cell phone”, Sue said about why this behavior impacted her daughter to such a degree.
Sue says leaders at South Buffalo Charter were extremely gracious after her daughter’s death, attended the funeral, offered support, and even raised money to help with the funeral costs. Even though she doesn’t blame them for what happened to her family, she does think they need to address the problems that other students are bringing to their attention. “The bottom is I think that the superintendent needs to know is that there is something that is going on in that school that all these kids are upset about. They wouldn’t be involving their parents, they wouldn’t be standing outside on the lawn when they’re supposed to be in school for no reason”.
Kristen would have turned 14 years old in May, and Sue wants to make sure no other parent has to celebrate their children’s birthdays without them.
“I think awareness needs to be brought to these young children about bullying and suicide. I don’t know how many of them realize that death is permanent, and there is no turning back”.