At Ohio School, 4 Bullied Teens Lost to Suicide

Tragedy at Mentor High School

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 8, 2010 7:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – The image is a heartbreaking one: 16-year-old Sladjana Vidovic lying in an open casket, dressed in the sparkly pink dress she had intended to wear to prom. It's an image that has been repeated three more times at Mentor High School, an institution that has seen three suicides and one overdose in the past two years. All were victims of bullying: Vidovic, a native Croatian, was teased for her accent and called "Slutty Jana"; one was harassed for having a learning disability, another for being gay, a fourth for being a boy who wore pink.

Now two families, including the Vidovics, are suing the school district. Vidovic's parents reportedly begged the school to intervene many times, and say it promised to take care of Sladjana—but when they asked to see records related to their reports of bullying, the school said they were destroyed during a switch to computers. And the Vidovics say they haven't seen much soul-searching among the bullies in Mentor: The family watched, said Sladjana's sister, as the girls who had tormented her for months walked up to the casket—and laughed. Some students say the problem is Mentor's culture of conformity: If you're not an athlete or cheerleader, you're not cool. And if you're not cool, you're a prime target for the bullies, reports the AP.

In this Sept. 1, 2010 photo, a portrait of Sladjana Vidovic, who committed suicide in 2008, sits in the living room of her family's Mentor, Ohio home.
In this Sept. 1, 2010 photo, a portrait of Sladjana Vidovic, who committed suicide in 2008, sits in the living room of her family's Mentor, Ohio home.   (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
In this Sept. 1, 2010 photo, with a portrait on the side table of Sladjana Vidovic, who committed suicide in 2008, her mother Celija, father Dragan, and sister Suzana, talk about their loss.
In this Sept. 1, 2010 photo, with a portrait on the side table of Sladjana Vidovic, who committed suicide in 2008, her mother Celija, father Dragan, and sister Suzana, talk about their loss.   (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
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