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1 High School, 4 Bullycides, 2 Lawsuits: What The Hell Is Happening In Mentor, Ohio?

ericmohat

Labeled this year as one of the 100 best places to live by Money magazine, the small Lake Erie suburb Mentor in Ohio, outside Cleveland, is also the scene of another lawsuit — against Mentor High School, where four teens have killed themselves over school bullying in the past two years.

There’s Sladjana Vidovic (pictured, bottom), a 16-year-old Croatian who left a suicide note about students taunting her about her accent and ethnicity and calling her a slut; she hung herself in the front yard. There’s Eric Mohat (top), a choir singer who liked wearing pink to school, and was teased for being gay, though his family says he wasn’t; he shot himself in 2007. (His parents filed suit against the school last year; the case lingers while the Ohio Supreme Court weighs a bullycide decision.) There’s Meredith Rezak, a friend of Mohat, who shot herself in the head three weeks after his death; she had just joined the school’s gay-straight alliance and told her family she might be gay, and yes, there was bullying at school. Classmates say they heard her talk about suicide. (Rezak’s two older brothers would also soon die, one from a self-shooting, the other from an overdose.) And there’s Jennifer Eyring, bullied for her learning disability, who overdosed on anti-depressants.

Now the Vidovics are joining the Mohats in suing the school district, claiming administrators didn’t do enough to stop the bullying that lead to their daughter’s suicide. The Mohats say their suit isn’t about money; the family just wants the school to admit their son died from being bullied.

Nobody is telling these families that “it gets better.”

We’ve visited this high school before: Last year we reported on the epidemic there involving students like Mohat, who was 17 when he ended his life — after one bully said to him, “Why don’t you go home and shoot yourself, no one will miss you.” At the time Mentor Public School District communications director Justin Maynor had this to say: “Generally, there is a very low incidence of violence at the school. Considering its population, it’s a relatively serene place.”

Remain in denial, friends, and there will be more dead kids.

[AP]

By:           Ryan Tedder
On:           Oct 8, 2010
Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

  • 30 Comments
    • The Milkman
      The Milkman

      “No one is telling these families that ‘it gets better’.”

      What kind of a snarky bullshit comment is that?

      No. No they’re not. And why is that? Because it WON’T get better for those families now that their kids have killed themselves. The families aren’t the ones who needed to hear the “it gets better” message. Those kids needed to hear it, and tragically they didn’t.

      Let’s hope the “it gets better” project will help other kids out there to avoid the despair that clearly caused these tragic suicides.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 11:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
      PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

      Justin Maynor had this to say: “Generally, there is a very low incidence of violence at the school. Considering its population, it’s a relatively serene place.”

      Are you fucking kidding me???? FOUR STUDENTS FROM YOUR SCHOOL HAVE KILLED THEMSELVES IN THE PAST TWO YEARS out of a population of:

      Population in July 2009: 51,894.

      Hey asshole, you need to run down to the clue store real quick like and buy a whole bunch. Because if you think that 4 kids killing themsleves in a populatio of 51,894 is a “low incidence of violence” you so very obviousley do not possess a single clue………

      Oct 8, 2010 at 12:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      Generally there is a very low incidence of bullying??

      1. Well there would be, since all of the kids bullied keep killing themselves.

      2. If your school doesn’t keep records of bullying, then how would you know?

      Oct 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael T. Moon
      Michael T. Moon

      I think it is very tragic that Mentor High school has had four suicides related to bullying. It is the responsibility of every leader, teacher and counselor to educate young adults about intolerance. It seems to me that Mentor is a town full of intolerant, redneck, prejudiced idiots who don’t know where the center of the earth is and think that it is where they live. Please grow up people! Allow people to be different, to be individuals, to be free from ignorance, but rather the showing of love and hospitality. The root word for hospitality means “love of strangers”. How could they allow these atrocities to continue in their school and community.

      Very disappointed at Mentor’s lack of humanity and their inability to take bullying seriously.

      Michael T. Moon.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lizzie
      Lizzie

      I ABSOLUTELY cannot believe this is still occurring!!!!

      I graduated from Mentor in 1976 and throughout the 4 years I went there, I was bullied EVERY SINGLE day for being overweidht.

      Now, 30+ years later, it’s still going on????

      Justin Maynor: Get your head out of your _____. Look around and realize what is going on in your district!!!!!

      This is NOT normal!!!!!!!

      Kids: PLEASE talk to someone!! Anyone!!

      We need you!!! Please believe this.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Britney
      Britney

      First of all mentor is the farthest thing from “red-necks” I actually went to Mentor High and it is not as bad as a place that you are making it sound. Its a middle class town right on the water. I went to school with Eric Mohat and adored him. I was never,ever bullied but I know children are bullied every single day … Mentor has an anti-bullying program and classes that kids are forced to attend and talk about bullying. So you make a bully go to some classes but how is that going to stop him? Over 3,00 students go to Mentor High … the thrid largest high school in Ohio so it is impossible for teachers to just know when someone is being bullied. You can’t sit there and put all the blame on the school. It’s just as much as the parents fault for not trying to get more involved. If I was a parent I would be up there knocking on the principal’s door if I were that concerned.

      There is no excuse all though for bullying. I hope kids that need help reach out to their friends,families and teachers. It will get better.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lizzie
      Lizzie

      Oh, okay, Britney. The anti bullying program is really working, huh?

      It is NOT IMPOSSIBLE for the teachers to know what is going on.

      Oh, oops, sorry, that’s right!

      I forgot!

      NO RESPONSIBILITY EXCEPT FOR ONE’S SELF.
      NO RESPONSIBILITY EXCEPT FOR ONE’S SELF.

      It’s today’s mantra and I am FUC*** SICK OF IT!!!

      Oct 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fitz
      Fitz

      @Britney: Every teacher, administrator, lunch lady, and janitor knows who the picked-on kids are. They might not witness 100% of the of the events, but everyone knows whats going on. I think VERY FEW of the picked-on are being picked-on in private. They collude with the bullies by failing to intervene. Our society fails by giving 1000′s and 1000′s of messages everyday that devalue queer people.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • X
      X

      I was savaged far worse than any of the kids described here. The kind of life I had in high school should not have still been happening beyond the 1800s. When others were going to dances and parties and being teens, I was pacing laps around a sewage pond with a .357 in my mouth, and the only thing that stopped me from pulling the trigger was knowing what it would have done to my mother. But as an adult, the thing that hurts even worse is the knowledge that somewhere out there, right this minute, someone else is experiencing the same thing and I am powerless to do anything about it. For many kids, it’s not school: it’s a government-mandated concentration camp from which the only escape is death. If you are in this situation and can’t get any help, drop out and leave. Any family who would expect you to endure this is a family you do not need. Damn them all.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jughead108
      jughead108

      I was bullied from 9th grade on, and then I did something about it. Tell me something, candy asses, hows that talking it out working for you?

      Oct 8, 2010 at 9:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Eminent Victorian
      Eminent Victorian

      It gets better when you’re a celebrity.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 11:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • notevengonnnaexplain
      notevengonnnaexplain

      I didn’t know it was this bad in public school. I went to a Catholic boys’ high school that was run like boot camp squared. The brothers and the priests were hard disciplinarians, but they never tolerated bullying. Any boy that made another boy’s life hell was either psychologically tortured by the brothers or expelled. We even had our own embryonic queer subculture. The jocks knew about it, but couldn’t lay a finger on us as they also knew the consequences of bullying. Tolerance through adversity, I guess.

      As for the school district, fire any teacher and/or administrator that failed to sound the alarm over blatant instances of bullying. The American litigation culture has destroyed teacher authority. There’s no time for the nuremberg defense when kids are killing themselves.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 9:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jose
      Jose

      Okay look. I’m a 14 yearold freshman and this is all bullshit. Nothing is ever going to get better. People in this earth are complete assholes now-a-days. And as a teenager it is not easy to go up to a teacher or parent and say I’m getting bullied. So no talking it out isn’t helping shit. Like they said get your head out your ass and open your eyes more. Stop thinking it’ll get better cause no, it honestly won’t. American’s are such idiots. Sorry to admit it. I am being bullied for going out with someones ex girlfriend. I feel so bad for what the families have to go through, because if I was in there situation I would definitely feel bad and believe its my fault. God bless all of them. <3 And fuck the haters.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 10:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      @Jose: Thank you for sharing your feelings. I am very glad to have read what you wrote. keep speaking.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 11:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • declanto
      declanto

      @Jose: I know many people who are looking for some way to help people like yourself and others like you. There ARE people who care, hang in there. Thanks for sharing. We need you to speak out, even if it’s only here on Queerty. You are part of us. And yes, it DOES. Really. FKH8

      Oct 10, 2010 at 7:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • declanto
      declanto

      @Jose: This may give some insight as to how others cope with similar abuse: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/sexandgender/3259/growing_up_gay_in_666:_fred_phelps_in_retrospect
      Its stories from young people who grew up gay in Fred Phelps’ neighborhood. It’s an inspiration.

      Oct 10, 2010 at 10:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • GG
      GG

      I am a current student at Mentor High School and let me tell you all something. It is not a bad school at all. In a school of 3,300+ students, there is going to be some good people and some bad people. Do you think that’s going to change? Of course not. It’s very unfortunate, these tragic situations, but you can not sue the school! How dare they try to say the school did nothing about it. We have suicide awareness programs, we have antibullying groups, and our counselors/social workers stay on top of things the best they can. Do not knock the school because of a handful of fucking assholes who are cowards and so insecure that they must prey on the weak. Those “bullies” (or in my terms, those “devils”) are not the entire school. And I’m sure there was someone there with these kids twlling them that it was going to get better and that they loved them. We’re not all heartless dickheads.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 4:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Samuel
      Samuel

      I support lawsuits against the school district. But I hope that the actual bullies are named as defendants as well. In all of these stories, the bullies are really not held accountable. Their identities are protected and there is no discussion of consequences for them. Indeed, you will often see a report referring to the bullying in the passive voice, i.e., Asher was bullied. There are culprits here and they have names. They should be pursued in court, and if their parents knew what was going on, they should be sued as well. If it is really “not about the money” as the parent quoted above says, they will not forget to go after the shallow pockets of the bullies.

      Also, some kid in each of these schools should anonymously tweet the names of these depraved animals. Non-violent community shaming should be a part of this. It is pathetic that they would all cover for these bullies.

      @GG:

      If you were put in a room with 100 people and were told that 10 of them were homicidal maniacs, would it provide you with any comfort to know that the 90% of the guys were not homicidal? Probably not, b/c any one of the 10 maniacs could do you great harm. The fact that the bullies represent a small portion of the overall school population does not mean that the problem isn’t deadly serious. Moreover the bullying of a few dozen can set a tone and a culture in the school that is picked up on by many more.

      Oct 12, 2010 at 12:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • boo radley
      boo radley

      “There’s Eric Mohat (top), a choir singer who liked wearing pink to school, and was teased for being gay, though his family says he wasn’t.”

      “The Mohats say their suit isn’t about money; the family just wants the school to admit their son died from being bullied.”

      I’m only accepting their lawsuit if they accept some responsibility themselves. The question isn’t “Was he gay?” The question is “Was he supported by his community and family?” School bullies aren’t the only reason people might kill themselves. It’s certainly part of it, but I have to believe our families have a greater stake in our lives than some mean kids at school might. Calling these incidents “bullycide” is reductive and limits the scope of this problem. Homophobia goes beyond the classroom and halls of the school. It exists in our neighborhoods, our churches, and our families. And it is deadly.

      I’m just thankful my family cared about me and has always supported me. They have always been more important to me than the jerkoffs I meet in my day-to-day life.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 4:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Julie Smith
      Julie Smith

      @Michael T. Moon: @Michael T. Moon: I definitely agree but it needs to start in the home with the mentality of their parents because that is where it stems from.

      Oct 30, 2010 at 7:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shineman
      Shineman

      Hopefully, the lawsuits will encourage the school system to take bullying more seriously. From a more neutral perspective, I find myself wondering if Meredith Rezak’s suicide can truly be blamed largely on bullying… when you consider her brothers’ deaths, it would seem there were probably other factors involved.

      Also, please don’t make up words that don’t make sense, like “Bullycide”… it doesn’t make you look clever. In fact, quite the opposite.

      Patricide: killing one’s father
      Regicide: killing the king
      Suicide: killing oneself
      Bullycide: (ignoring the incongruous root languages) would mean killing the bully…

      S.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 1:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • elliot
      elliot

      guys i play nazi zombies quit looking at this stuff and add me on ps3 because im that aawesome

      Nov 24, 2010 at 11:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • elliot
      elliot

      my user is abrahamtool so add me or ill knock u out and poop on your face.

      Nov 24, 2010 at 11:03 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mclena
      Mclena

      @Elliot

      EPIC WIN

      Add him :v

      Nov 24, 2010 at 11:03 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mclena
      Mclena

      YOU BASTARD
      YOU FKING BASTARDS

      Nov 24, 2010 at 11:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • elliot
      elliot

      im like a demon i feed off of all of this negativity.

      Nov 24, 2010 at 11:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mclena
      Mclena

      Someone 4chan this :v

      Nov 24, 2010 at 11:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bryan R
      Bryan R

      @Britney: I attended Massillon Washington High School and graduated in 02. I was picked on everyday that I attended school. I was told I was gay, I was a homo, I was pushed in the halls, I was laughed at. My senior year I started to skip school or call myself off so I wouldn’t have to deal with the other kids. The teachers know exactly what’s going on. The principles know exactly what’s going on. Yet nothing is done about it. Nothing ever will be done about it. Why is that? It’s because schools have to be politically correct, because the government says you can’t punish kids because it’s wrong and so on. If a teacher or principle disciplines a student than the parent threatens with a law suit. But at Washington High my bullies were “football” players who everyone thinks are “gods” and school officials look the other way when they do something they shouldn’t. I was one of the kids that wanted to take a gun to school, but I never did. I DO NOT AGREE with kids that use violence from being bullied, as well I feel there pain and know the feeling. It’s always the schools fault. I don’t know how you can blame the parents. My parents didn’t know because I kept it all in, I would lie to my parents and they thought everything was ok….I kid should never have to lie to their parents about what is going on with them, and yet some do. Something needs to be done, and I really never thought about it until know because for some reason I found this article, I going to step up and fight.

      Dec 1, 2010 at 5:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jose Rodriguez
      Jose Rodriguez

      With all due respect.

      You are never going to stop the bullying. Ever. I was picked on and bullied at school for most of my elementary and Jr. High school years. The teachers all knew, and tried to intervene. My parents knew and tried to intervene. All to know avail.

      All the bullying ended one day when I’d finally had enough and took matters into my own hands. I didn’t take a gun to school, and I got beat down pretty bad too. But I gave back as much as I got. It’s a shame that things went down the way they did, but I never got bullied again.

      I feel sad for the parents. But I have to ask, …Why couldn’t their kids talk to them about it, you know? I knew my parents loved me and they always taught me that I was important and special. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t talk to them about. I knew there wasn’t much they could do about the bullying, but at least I knew I could speak to my parents about it. My parents told me that it was something I would have to work out.

      Life is risky, and sometimes bad things happen to the best of us. Sue the school? For what? The school personnel can’t see everything that’s going on. And even if they could, what are they supposed to do about it? If the bullying is anything like the kind I used to get, most of it happened after school.

      Suing the school is just silly.

      Dec 25, 2010 at 3:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alyssa
      Alyssa

      I was bullied at mentor high school. I am part of the class of 2012. I was outcasted for years when back in 7th grade some kids made up a lie about me saying that I had asked out a girl in our grade when I never did!
      And in 10th grade when I wore a headcovering, a gothic girl pulled it off my head and I ended up with whiplash.
      Mentor High School is INtolerant on a number of levels. They are anti gay and anti tolerating other peoples’ religion.

      Aug 14, 2011 at 11:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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