Funeral services were held Wednesday afternoon for a young Davenport West High School student who friends say took her own life after being bullied.
Davenport police say they are looking into the circumstances of 14-year old Alice Schmitt’s death.
Friends of the teen launched a Facebook page this week called “Make the Change, The Alice Schmitt Movement” to create more awareness about suicide and bullying.
A longtime Quad City mental health counselor says teen suicide is on the rise in Scott County, Iowa. All were girls. One was 12 years old.
“To my knowledge, we’ve had four adolescent suicides in the last year. I’ve seen a steady increase in kids with anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, self harm, suicide or attempted suicide,” said Joyce Morrison, with the Vera French Community Mental Health Center in Davenport.
Gabriella van Rij is an author and speaker on teen suicide. She conducts seminars on the topic around the country, and has appeared on the Dr. Phil Show. She is now based in Davenport and says she’s offered her services to local school districts, particularly on the issue of bullying in schools, but has had no takers.
“It’s an epidemic. But the call to action is, let’s cover it up as fast as we can, it might go away. That’s what I see,” van Rij said.
Morrison supports an open and honest dialogue to boost awareness about what she calls a “crisis.”
“I think as a nation and as a community, we have to figure out, how do we give the message of hope. How do we tell them, tomorrow will be another day, that school is only a temporary part of your life and eventually you’ll graduate and won’t have to deal with these people anymore,” Morrison said. “With Twitter, Facebook, there’s no safe haven, no where they can go to escape.”
“This is what we do with these kids in therapy here. We tell them this will end. You will grow up, give it one more day.”