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.