The parents of a 12-year-old New Jersey girl who killed herself after enduring months of relentless bullying plan to sue their daughter’s school district, they said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Mallory Grossman died by suicide in June after being bullied in school and on social media by several classmates, her mother, Dianne Grossman, said. The “vile and malicious” messages Mallory received included insults, taunts and a suggestion to end her own life, according to the family’s attorney, Bruce Nagel.
“For months she was told she was a loser, she had no friends, and finally she was told, ‘Why don’t you kill yourself?’ ” Nagel said.
Mallory’s parents accused the Rockaway Township school district in New Jersey, where Mallory attended sixth grade, of failing to stop its students from cyberbullying their daughter and ignoring their continuous pleas for help that began last October.
“I’m going to make the assumption the school did something, but I’m also going to make the assumption, based on where we are today, that they didn’t do enough,” Dianne Grossman said.
Nagel said he will file a notice of intent to sue the school district for allegedly being negligent. The family is weighing whether to also sue the parents of some of the students who they said bullied Mallory.
“We want to open a Pandora’s box, we want to push against the hornet’s nest,” Nagel said. “We want to end this forever.”
Rockaway Township School District Superintendent Greg McGann and the school district’s attorney, Nathanya Simon, did not return requests for comment. Simon told the Associated Press the district has not yet seen the written notice.
Dianne Grossman said her daughter was popular among her own circle of friends and may have had a “target on her back” because she was a good athlete and student. “I think that she kind of represented what they couldn’t be,” the grieving mother told reporters.
Mallory’s official cause of death has not been reported. The Essex County Medical Examiner in New Jersey directed comment to the state’s Office of the Attorney General, which runs the medical examiner’s office. The New Jersey Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond.
Loved ones remembered Mallory as a compassionate, artsy and talented girl.
“She was kind. She was innocent. She was beautiful. And she was pure,” her family wrote in an obituary. “Her beautiful and free spirit will remain with us for the rest of eternity.”
Suicide Prevention: What to Know
Experts say some common warning signs of suicide include discussing a desire to die or feeling anxious, hopeless, like a burden, or trapped or in pain; withdrawing from others; extreme mood swings, including anger and recklessness; and abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little).
Many suicides have multiple causes and are not triggered by one event, according to experts. Where mental illness is a factor, it can be treated.
Reaching out to those in need is a simple and effective preventative measure, experts say.
If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, texting the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or seeking help from a professional.