Bradwell Institute students and teachers began Friday on a somber note as they learned that one of their own has passed away.
Teachers school-wide read a statement to students in their first period classes confirming that a sophomore, who they named, had died Thursday morning. He was found in Fort Stewart housing.
With few details released, rumors spread that the cause of death may have been suicide and that bullying contributed. Students apparently were searching for answers.
“A lot of people asked, what happened, why did he do it …” senior Will Davis said. “I’m not 100 percent sure that’s why he did it, but that’s what’s been told and word kind of gets around quickly.”
Davis, who said he heard the bullying claims from some friends of the late student, was among several who reported students were upset and unable to focus in class.
“No matter who it is, whether I know him or not, it’s just a sad thing to hear that one of your classmates took their own lives,” Davis said. “And then to find out that it was due to bullying, it makes you upset. Nobody should take their own lives because someone else is causing them to feel like they should.”
A Fort Stewart news release said the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command was investigating the death of a soldier’s minor family member who was found in on-post housing.
When asked to confirm details, Chris Grey, chief of public affairs for CID in Quantico, Va., said Friday afternoon that he was looking into whether more information would be released to the media.
“According to CID special agents, they do not suspect foul play at this time, but are not completely ruling it out at this point in the investigation to ensure a complete and thorough death investigation is conducted,” the Fort Stewart release said.
LCSS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Conley said she did not have many details to offer, but she confirmed that Bradwell officials released the student’s name school-wide.
While the school system does not conduct its own investigation, Conley said they provide as much information as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act allows as a way to minimize the impact of rumors and help students cope with the news.
She confirmed the school system is regarding the death as a “potential suicide.”
“As with any tragedy, the school system will make sure we have enough counselor support,” Conley said. “We do provide additional counseling support for any student that may be affected by any kind of tragedy.”
Bradwell Institute Principal Scott Carrier said he also has heard rumors of bullying and swiftly took action.
“We talked with numerous students, and I am able to confirm that we could find no evidence of any bullying in this situation,” he said.
Both Carrier and Conley urged students to seek help when experiencing any kind of hardship.
“As adults, we have been where you are, we understand that a lot of times we find ourselves in situations and we think there’s no answer, but there is help,” Conley said. “Talk to your teachers, talk to your administrators — if you can’t, talk to your parents — but there’s always an answer.”
Davis said he thinks student speculation would quiet — and students could begin to move on — if a bit more information was officially released.
“That would clarify a lot of things instead of people just making assumptions about it, that way it can definitely be cleared,” Davis added.
While students mentioned several potential causes of death, neither Conley nor Carrier commented, saying even they had only heard hearsay.
Carrier said the school did set up a crisis intervention plan that allowed students to seek counseling if needed. He said several students did want to talk and that counselors from other schools were available, but Bradwell was able to manage the number of students in-house.
Carrier also provided the statement teachers read to their classes, which said the student would be greatly missed by his friends, classmates and staff.
“Although this news is upsetting to each of us, and we will all grieve in our own way, I encourage you to think of his family during this difficult time. They will need our thoughts and prayers in their time of grief.