Chestermere family speaks out about alleged school bullying after 15-year-old daughter dies by suicide

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WATCH: The Kon family said their daughter Abeg was bullied for months and that supports in schools need to do more to prevent similar tragedies. Michael King reports. If you are struggling, you can reach out to Health Link at 811 or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642 in Alberta.

The Alberta family of a 15-year-old girl who died by suicide is speaking out, saying it was constant bullying that led to her death.

The family of Abeg Kon said she died on Friday, Sept. 4, after months of feeling negatively targeted by other students at St. Gabriel the Archangel School in Chestermere.

Angelo Kon, Abeg’s father, said his daughter disclosed the bullying to him, adding that it had been taking a mental toll on her and continued through the pandemic.

“She felt stress and trauma,” Angelo said Wednesday. “The only solution she thought was that she needed to eliminate her life.”

Anok Kon, Abeg’s sister, said the 15-year-old was the type of person who didn’t want to cause trouble for anyone else.

“She didn’t want to cause fights or problems,” said Anok. “She made herself small so that she didn’t raise bigger issues.”

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Read more: Death of 9-year-old Syrian girl raises alarm bells among mental health advocates

Angelo said he had talked with school officials in February about his daughter’s concerns and said one of the teens was briefly suspended.

But he said he felt the support his daughter received was lacking.
“They never took action,” said Angelo. “We were supposed to sit down together and find a way [to help] so that all the parents and students knew that bullying wasn’t allowed.”

The Calgary Catholic School District said it can’t speak to specific situations for privacy reasons.

Read more: Syrian family in Calgary mourning loss of 9-year-old daughter who died by suicide

In a statement, a spokesperson for the CCSD said that all reports of bullying are taken very seriously.

“Hurtful behaviour of any kind is not tolerated within our schools and we all have a shared responsibility to accept and support each member of our community,” said the spokesperson.

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“We strongly encourage all our students and parents to come forward if they experience any kind of harassment or bullying. We work with all our families as well as the [Calgary Police Service] or RCMP if needed to address any ongoing concerns.”

Angelo said he hopes parents, students and schools can learn from his family’s tragedy.

“We need to stop [bullying]. We need the story of Abeg’s as an example to save the lives of other people.”

A familiar situation

Last year, nine-year-old Amal Alshteiwi also died by suicide after her parents said she told them she had been bullied at school for months.

Sam Namourra, a close family friend of Alshteiwi, said the death of two school-aged girls in similar circumstances should raise alarms for schools and school boards.

“[The girls] felt rejected by their peers,” said Namourra. “We already lost two lives and the question is how many lives [will] we need to lose before we really start to address these issues properly?”
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If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

If you are in need of support, you can call Health Link at 811 or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.