4 Student Suicides, But Ohio School Won’t Admit to Bullying


Lawrence King was one too many. But as we know, harassment and violence toward gay youth (or children branded as “gay” by classmates) are not a series of isolated incidents. In 2007, 17-year-old Eric Mohat killed himself after endless gay-hate taunting. Now Mohat’s parents are identifying those who they see responsible: the school’s administrators and teachers. And they’re suing.

But they’re not in it for the money. At least, they’re not asking for any; the lawsuit they filed late last month does not ask for any compensation, only that Mentor High School in Ohio acknowledge Mohat’s death as a “bullicide.” (Named in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, are administrators Jacqueline A. Hoynes and Joseph Spiccia, and math teacher Thomas M. Horvath.)

Why so significant? Because Mohat wasn’t the only one. Three other students in Mohat’s class killed themselves in 2007. The three kids, two boys and a girl, were described as “extremely bright,” but they were branded “nerds” by classmates, and viciously harassed before they took their own lives. (Another male student wrote a suicide note two weeks after Mohat’s death; he did not kill himself.)


Eric Mohat — whose friends knew him as “Twiggy” for his lean, 6-foot-1-inch, 112-pound physique — had a dry wit and musical talent, according to his mother, Jan Mohat. He had played piano for 13 years, enjoyed video games, anime, Harry Potter books and “cracking puzzles.”

“By all indications he was a very nice, typical high school kid, kind of quiet and shy, but outgoing with his little group of friends,” said the family’s lawyer Ken Myers. “He seemed to have a quirky sense of humor and was also very sensitive.”

The bullying “accumulated over time,” Myers told “In math class, two or three picked on him constantly and mercilessly. Most of it was verbal, but they did some things like sitting behind him and flicking him in the ear, sticking stuff in his hoodie and putting eraser shavings on his head. Out of class they would shove him in lockers.”

Much of the taunting was related to him being considered gay, though Eric Mohat’s parents said the teen “didn’t identify himself that way,” Myers said.

“He may have looked effeminate, was in theater and would wear bright clothes,” said Myers. “He was a skinny kid, and so the kids found something that bothered him and went for that.”

The parents say Eric Mohat routinely ignored the teasing but complained to the teacher, who responded by moving the bullies’ desks.

“The next day, they were back and it made it worse,” said Myers. “They may have thought he was a snitch and the parents didn’t know how bad it was.”

But March 29, 2007, one bully pushed Eric Mohat too far with a remark about killing himself, the lawsuit alleges. The teen took a legally registered gun from his father’s bureau drawer, locked himself in his room and shot himself in the head.

At the time, Eric Mohat’s older sister, Erin, was on a treadmill exercising. His after-school employer called their home to find out why he had not shown up at work.

Erin Mohat found her brother’s body in his bedroom and called 911. Now 21, his sister is studying to be a school psychologist, something Jan Mohat said is now “a calling.”

“My sister is my hero,” Eric Mohat had written on his MySpace page, though she was too late to save him.

Later authorities found a story Eric Mohat had begun to write about bullying. Days before, he had told his mother about the nonstop taunts in both class and in the hallways of the high school.

The family said school officials had been resistant to cooperate in the investigation and had insisted bullying was not a problem; the bullies never showed remorse.

“This is the first we heard that a suit was filed,” said Justin Maynor, communications director for the Mentor Public School District. “We had a hunch it was coming.”

Meanwhile, Mentor Public School District communications director Justin Maynor has the audacity to say, “Generally, there is a very low incidence of violence at the school. Considering its population, it’s a relatively serene place.” And the “several” student suicides in the “last couple of years”? Maynor insists they have no connection to bullying. “We don’t believe it’s a problem.”

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  • hardmannyc

    Sounds like the parents have a pretty good case, but I have to wonder why they weren’t more proactive when he complained to them. Ah, hindsight’s always 20/20 in these cases, I guess.

  • Anthony in Nashville

    One one hand, I do believe something needs to be done to make schools more accountable for bullying.

    But I also see parents wanting to shift responsibility to schools for things the family should deal with. I’m thinking about things like truancy, drug use, kids having sex, gangs,
    and bullying. Schools can only do so much if the parents aren’t willing to discpline or raise their child with the right values.

    Why weren’t this child’s parents putting a foot in the principal’s ass when they first learned about the bullying? The parents of one of the kids mentioned in the article transferred their child to a different school because he wasn’t satisfied with the school’s response. Sometimes you need to be proactive instead of letting the chips fall where they may because you don’t want to get involved.

  • Betty sue


    I’m sure his parents are definitely wishing they had done more. But the boy had gone to the teacher and obviously moving their seat didn’t work.

    I’m sure this wasn’t the first time these bullies had been reported. The school should have done more – not only by doing something to stop these guys but to show more support for the kids who were getting picked on by having the counselor talk to them to see if there was more they could do. And for these bullies to suggest that the boy should kill himself – right there I think that’s an innuendo do a death threat.

    This school, and all schools, need to do more to protect the kids and watch for these types of bullies. Kids, and everyone in general, should not feel threatened and singled out by being themselves.

    I’m so sorry for the parents and friends of this boy.

  • justme2020

    If I was the parent I would not only speak CLEARLY to the principal, I would find a very scary hood and pay him to take the harrassers to a quiet corner and do a little threatening action to them!!!!!!!!!! I am one parent the schools & neighborhood know not to F#@#ck with. I mean business. More parents should grow some B$#$lls and step in.

  • jake

    @justme2020: Seriously, fight for your kid.

  • Daniel

    I meet so many adults who are exactly like these rotten schoolchildren. The personality you see in elementary school is exactly what they’ll be like the rest of their lives. Saying “boys will be boys” or “a little hazing is just traditional” or otherwise overlooking harassment is the same as imposing it.

    If we want to make real change in our society of bullies, bigots, warmongers and investment bankers, we need to start here, in our schools. Not necessarily by cracking the skulls of these unrestrained child-students, but by changing the elements that create these larval monsters in our society. This might mean cracking some teacher’s or administrator’s skulls, but what really needs changing is the attitude that certain things are tolerable, and best left up to the kids themselves.

    Public school culture creates an amplified microcosm of the current miserable world, and perpetuates all the worst elements. We need to actively weed out this bad crap and nurture all the good stuff.

    I went to a high school that had a firm “No Harassment” policy, instead of the now-common “No Holding Hands” and “Zero Tolerance” crap we see in schools today. Our policy was successful. Some of our students had been bullies, and some of our students had been bullied at other schools, but bullying did not resume in our school. School was a refuge, instead of a war-zone. Students stayed focused on their studies, and were not in a hurry to evacuate the premises at the end of the day.

    The principal personally met anyone who was accusing or accused of harassing. If that one meeting did not solve the problem, then the harasser was expelled, period. The emotional safety of the student body was far more important than preserving the money budgeted for that bully.

  • Bill in PDX

    @Daniel: in HS I was on the fem side and was teased early on and even ostracized for awhile and the culture at my school was to ignore it and so the bright, sensitive (not even always actually gay) kids had to drop out and bullies got to stay. The bullies should go home not the victims…that is how it should be– those kids will grow up to be jerks and the gentle kids will grow up to be productive given a safe learning environment.

  • Tallskin

    This is ghastly.

    We have the same or worse problem over here in the UK – but at least the govt here are starting to act upon the problem.

    I don’t know if bullying of gay kids has become worse over the past couple of decades or not. Obviously when I was at school in the 1970s we, none of us, were ‘out’ cos that just wasn’t possible.

    I don’t remember kids over the age of 16 being bullied at all – younger yes, but over that age no. But now it seems things are different.

  • Miley Crisis

    Is there REALLY a Scientology Web banner on your site??!!
    Umm, hello, Scientologists HATE gay people.

  • petted

    Sounds like some of those administrators need to be relocated to fields that don’t involve education.

  • IDoWhatICan

    Schools need to work on being proactive against bullying. In working within the public school system, i think the following are two of biggest issues with confronting bullying:

    Laziness: generally the teacher thinks, “if i can just get through this class.” Classroom management is done day by day, rather than finding holistic solutions. And it takes effort to really address a problem. So they implement “quick fixes” like moving desk around. It’s as if giving the least amount of attention possible to a problem will make it go away.

    Homophobia: Teachers and administrators are so afraid of actually confronting the issues of same-sex attractions that they ignore gay taunting or homophobic comments. You don’t want to be see “defending” gay people, because you could get in trouble for it.

    Some friends of mine have a son who has been harassed at school. Other students have been calling him “gay” and teasing him mercilessly. It sickens me to my stomach that the parents aren’t throwing themselves into fighting this. I believe one of the reasons is that their afraid to give legitimacy to the notion that their son is a bit “different” than the other boys. They are shamed that their son could indeed be gay.Thus, they ignore it and hope it goes away.

  • Helga von Ornstein

    @Miley Crisis: Really? Do you think it would do any good to tell Tom Cruise and Will Smith about that?

  • happyreader

    As a teacher in Ohio I have stepped up and stopped the bullying of gay and lesbian students, but one thing which works against schools is what to do with the bullies? The state report cards and funding on schools actually deducts points for excessive suspensions and schools earn money based on the number of kids attending (not suspended)…so my school actually ignores the majority of problems and tells the teachers to deal with it…so whereas my class may be a safe haven for ANY kid feeling bullied, I cannot speak for the rest of the building (and I have heard other staff members making disparaging remarks about the gay ad lesbian students from time to time).

  • Tom

    I can’t tell you how sad this makes me. I counsel middle- and high-school aged kids in California, and the number of kids complaining of bullying is staggering. We need to get interested in this topic, because right now we couldn’t care less. Even if these kids don’t kill themselves, they’re often seriously socially and psychologically impaired as a result of what’s done to them. Administrators have to be much more willing to suspend and even expell bullys, and they need to be up to the task of kicking some parental ass for those parents who blithely pursue the notion that boys will be boys.

  • Bruce

    I grew up in Mentor, Oh in the late 80’s/early 90’s and moved to NYC in 1994 at the age of 23.
    I visited my parents in late 2008 for a month.
    What has changed in almost 15 years?
    The smiling, mid-western “family values” crowd toss the word “faggot” around like a conjunction.
    …but it’s okay. Gay people are subversive perverts who deserve the hate directed toward them, in their opinion.
    After all, God loves the middle class white heterosexual, and despises anyone who isn’t.

  • bigjake75

    We can’t get a true anti-bullying law in Michigan. There are a few senators who keep stopping it. The law will eventually change.

    But these bullies do grow up to be even worse. I bartend, and I constantly have to put guys in there place. I do not look or sound “gay” as people like to put it. Im masculine, so straight guys feel its okay to make jokes about fags and dykes. But I risk my job every time to let them know its not ok. We all have to stand up for ourselves and each other.

    And parents need to protect their kids at all costs. This madness has to end.

  • Ousslander

    the parents should not have relied completely on the s hool to solve this. I’ve never seen anyone bullied to the point of suicide. If suing the school why not the bullies n their parents?

    Maybe they should have taught their kid to stAnd up for hinself by teChing him how to fight verbally n physically. R kids being raised to be so weak these days that taunts n shoving make you kill yourself? Toughen your kids up, its a tough world out there

  • edgyguy1426

    If there were actually that many suicides from one class, it seems like the teachers were enablers or actual participants..I mean 4 students from one class in one year!! Two might have been a coincidence, but when the 3rd one occured..didn’t that send up a red flag that there was a problem in this classroom??

  • sal

    @Bill in PDX: tell me about it.

  • sal

    @Daniel: if u dont mind me askin what high school is that?sounds good!

  • sal

    @happyreader: if only we had more like u..THANK UUUUU!!! :)

  • sal

    @bigjake75: AMEN!!

  • Daniel

    Sal: Malcom Shabazz City High of Madison WI. I think it may be closed now. Rod Bina was principal when I attended.

  • mb00

    You know…that fucking pisses me off. I’m am not at all surprised when the “bullied” becomes the “bully”. It’s exactly what happened in Columbine and various other schools in recent years. You would think and hope that school administrators would be far more sensitive about bullying.
    I, like I think a great majority of us here, was so extremely bullied when I was in school that my teen years were a nightmare for me and even now I hate thinking about them because I get so angry. I was so sad all the time, I just wanted to disappear. I can honestly say that if weapons had been accessible to me at that time, I would have gone on a rampage. I would have shot everyone of those fuckers in the head.

    Sorry guys…when I hear of these things, old wounds get opened and always get to me in a bad way.

  • WetWaffleSlag

    @Helga von Ornstein: Why do you underestimate awareness? Ridickulous.

  • Daniel

    MB00: It seems more likely that there is some strong, consistent force that is making school administrators and teachers completely insensitive. I don’t know what that is, but low pay, funding shortfalls and poor teacher/student ratios are usually cited as reasons for the failure of our school systems. And I don’t think that all these things added together expains it.

    I’m glad you made it through your school years without doing anything they could use to make you the scapegoat; and this is what these massacres are about. It’s like the whole school dumps their negativity on a small number of victims, who are expected to curl up and die and take the evil with them. When someone turns into a bomber or shooter, the Press and school administration is swift to assert that the student body was the actual victim – and the killer was just some unexplained, crazy anomaly. Everyone loves our school! No bullying here!

    Not to rub salt in your wounds, but you realize there are some old fogeys who think that bullying is a fine old tradition, builds character; strengthens people. These bastards would probably try to credit the bullying with making you the stronger person you are now. All this parallels the cycles of abuse we see in dysfunctional families. We have to expose the feedback for what it is. We have to end the cycles of abuse that are making us such a loathsome, toxic culture.

  • mb00

    @Daniel: Nah, you’re not rubbing salt on my old wounds.
    I do agree with you that some people do think that bullying is completely acceptable. But one thing I do agree with those bastards is that it actually did build the character that I have now. I’m not that skinny little shy boy I use to be and don’t take shit from anyone. I have allot of compassion of people in need and those that society considers and “underdog”. I have no compassion at all for people with sense of privilege and entitlement.
    I thank my mom for giving me the big ass mouth I have now, haha.

  • Daniel

    MB00: I don’t think it was the bullying that made you a stronger person. It was *surviving* the bullying, and all the other challenges you faced in your life, that made you the stronger person. Granted, it’s nice to grow up and be a strong person, but would you prescribe years of torment to every child to make them that way?

    I feel students have a right to be safe when they’re at school, in their neighborhood, and while growing up. Growing up is stressful, but in a healthy way. Unhealthy stress, like being TORMENTED DAILY by their peers and being made to feel like they are ABOMINATIONS for their same-sex attraction, to name a couple of examples, should be eliminated from their lives, and from our culture. Being bullied throughout school is NOT the same as learning to rock-climb at summer camp!

    Permitting bullying and hazing is simply unacceptable. Sure, it weeds out a few weaklings, who end up in mental hospitals or coffins, it makes a few people stronger, who go on to praise their school’s traditions and write positive comments about their ordeals in blog comments, and there are the ones who become bullies themselves and perpetuate this utterly senseless symptom of our culture’s pathology.

  • scott

    I spent my entire gradeschool career worried about how I was going to make it home without being killed. Being called “fag” and “cocksucker” every single day of my life.

    The irony, I was the one actually having sex.

    When parents are made aware of this, their trip to the school only escalated the abuse.

    Though, as miserable as I was, I never considered ending it. I guess I was stronger. Or maybe these kids had it worse, though I can’t imagine.

    May they rest in peace, and may school officials finally officially do something about this. Bullicide. It’s great that this is out in the open – at least being discussed.

  • sal

    @Daniel: thanks,such a shame it’s closed

  • PatrickH.

    This is exactly what happens, and what I talk about at length with people in Iowa. It start out pretty simple, and then they find that one thing that bothers you, and it spirals out of control. People need to know how to find this in their child. Being quiet is only a pre-indicator but not always. Some kids are really sensitive, and seclude inside but not around those they trust, around their small knit group they are open, but will clam up when danger lurks around them. check out what you could know would amaze you. I went through it for 10 years, and I remember it all. I can tell you exactly what to look for. Also for those interested, check out

  • Trina


    I’ve seen this story on many GLBT sites. I understand that the words used to torment Twiggy were of anti-GLBT nature, but maybe I should make it clear (since I actually knew him and I’ve seen many comments that make it seem that you all should probably know) that he WASN’T GAY.

    You’re making the same assumptions those bullies made. You’re just being nice about it. Seriously people, it even says in the article that he didn’t identify himself that way.

  • Evan

    @Trina: Bullying, especially bullying that uses anti-GLBT slurs, is of interest to the GLBT community regardless of the identity of the victim – we all know that lots of straight kids are targets of homophobic bullying. The article makes it quite clear that he didn’t identify as gay. I’m not quite sure what the problem is.

  • Bri

    I am a sophomore at Mentor High School, the same school that those 4 students went who committed suicide. I was in middle school when it happened, but all the parents of kids who are in the Mentor Schools Exempted Village District got a letter sent home notifying them of the recent suicides. The letter was meant to remind students of the no-bully-tolerance. And also to remind students of the consequences. When I was in eighth grade, a girl told my friend” the world would be better off without you, so disappear.” The girl who said it was sent to to principals office immediately, and she was expelled. So, the school is doing something about the bullying, but they can only do so much. It isn’t the school’s fault that bullying takes place. It’s the environment the bully is raised in. As a student at Mentor High School, yeah I can say it’s almost impossible to get from class to class between periods without bumping into someone with over 3,000 students in the halls at once. And sometimes those “bumps” are taken negatively, and results in a fight. A friend of mine was expelled for punching another guy because the other guy punched his girlfriend in the stomach. M friend was expelled for bullying when he was defending his girlfriend from bullying. The other kid recieved no punishment because his parents threatened to sue. I’ve seen teachers bully students. I’ve seen fights break out because of a lunch table, or a locker, or a boyfriend. And guess what? It’s the upper classmen!!! Being a freshman at Mentor was a living hell. It seems like everyone is out to get you, because the upper classmen (mostly seniors) target the freshman. It’s wrong, and I was in a fight because of it. And I’m happy to say I didn’t get in too much trouble because my record was clean and I had no history with fights and I had good grades. But what happens to a kid that gets in a fight who struggles in school? He gets busted in that same situation because of his grades?
    It is usually the small kids getting picked on, and the athetes get let go because they pay a service to the school? Or the smart kids don’t get in trouble? It’s wrong, and it needs to stop.

  • Dee

    Parents – please ignore the mentality of wimpiness that pervades school teachers and administrators like a plague. They turn their eyes away from the obvious problems for reasons that have to do with substandard mentalities, lack of education and common sense, cowardice and favoritism – and plain laziness. The suicides at Mentor High in Ohio are so indicative of the ever growing problem of bullying, and the students are not being taught to fight back – so they kill themselves!? I was bullied for three years in junior high and on into high school; my first week of 9th grade was celebrated by my “snapping” when a bully “accidently” bumped into me, pushing me face first into my locker. And I came out swinging! The principal had the nerve to tell the bully, “Valerie, you’re so pretty, why do you need to hurt people?” And I, the skinny, gawky, hairy-armed geek, well, the principal pretty much ignored me as he sent ME home. Thankfully, my father is no wimp, and he came down with both fists (figuratively, alas) on the principal, Valerie, her miserable family and her friends that egged her on as a bully. I constantly coach my seven-year old daughter to do more than what her teachers tell her to do about bullies – she will fight back too! So watch out, you suck-ass, ignorant scum – we will beat you down before your pebble brains know what has happened. GROW UP!!

  • bullies_b_gone

    The major problem is our society today. You can no longer discipline your child and neither can the school. If you do, you get reported for child abuse and if the school disciplines, they could get sued. There is a difference between getting spanked and getting beat.

    Look at our economy for the past couple of decades. Now both parents have to have a full time job, and it is worse for single parents. You start your kids off at daycare when they are young, and that is where it starts. At least one parent needs to be with their kid(s) when they are growing up.

    Wealthy families also have their issues. Their kids are spoiled and they think they are better than anyone. Buying your kid’s love is no way to raise them. A kid that I was friends with in high school had that kind of love from his family. When he was 16, he committed suicide by starting up his parent’s car in the garage with the door closed and died from the fumes. He seemed a little strange before he did this and said he was made fun of in school and did not get real love from his parents.

    Earlier this year his brother committed suicide because he was gay and received the same kind of love from his parents. I didn’t know him that well but his friends said he was a great person. He had many friend and most of them were straight.
    Okay, now me. I was and am a shy person and consider myself an introvert. I do open up to people once I know them. When I was in grade school I tried to stay away from people who caused trouble, and that is where it started. Some kid wanted to fight me on the playground and I would not fight him. So I was considered a whimp. I was so unhappy there that I asked my parents to send me to a public school. In the middle of seventh grade I switched. When I started eighth grade a couple of girls that went to my previous school started at the new school.
    For these girls to mark their territory and prove themselves they told the bullies in the new school that I spit water in one of the girl’s face. I never did that. That started the problems for me in this school. Throughout my high school years it stayed with me including the bullying. I was beat on constantly and I was always blamed for everything.

    Well, I made it through, but it was not easy. If I could turn back time, I would beat the crap out of a few people. I have encouraged my kids to stand up for themselves if necessary. They will not go through what I went through.

    It is funny, I went to a class reunion get together last month and one smart ass bully showed up. Wow, he was so nice. I guess he was not so tough without his backups.

    Parents need to spend a little more time in their kids life whether the kids like it or not. Schools need to step in and prevent the bullying and punish severely. The school also needs to believe the kid who is getting bullied. Classmates need to speak up.

  • Dee

    This was so sad. However I read an article and his mom explained that he had not wanted her to intervene, I’m paraphrasing but he said the ‘teacher had moved the desks’ and he felt it didn’t work anyway, so her intervening would ‘make it worse’ so she didn’t. As far as I understand it, she wanted to when he told her about it.

    Hindsight is always 20/20– it’s easy to say where were his parents, where was his sister (who it seems he adored), but suicide is a complicated issue, and teens are particularly sensitive. You just don’t know what he was going through and how much he was telling them. Bottom line, the school would have known, and would have seen it occur. It was their job to tell the parents.

    Bullying (not just of LGBT teens) is not right. He identified as straight, but gay or straight, he just was who he was. No one should be bullied for being themselves.

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