Student’s suicide attempt spurs action


FORT MADISON – The stunning announcement late Monday night that a Fort Madison Middle School student tried to commit suicide has left one local woman saying enough is enough.

Lisa Martinez, a friend of the family of the student, said she wanted to have a gathering at Ivanhoe Park’s shelter house at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

“There’s just so much bullying going on out there. Kids just need to know that there are people out here they can talk to,” Martinez said. “We as a community, not just here but everywhere, we have to let these kids know that there are people here that will help them.

Fort Madison Superintendent Erin Slater sent an email blast to all parents of students at Fort Madison Middle School informing them of the suicide attempt and informing parents that the district places students’ safety as their highest priority.

“We take the safety of our students as our highest priority and concern.  Yesterday, we had a middle school student attempt suicide.  We have reached out to the family and are offering any support now and in the future that they need.  Specifics about this situation are confidential and sensitive.  All students are safe.  If you have any questions, please contact the Principal, Mr. Dirth.  Again, please know we take the safety of students as our highest priority and our thoughts are with the family,” Slater wrote.
Martinez said she was bullied in high school, too, and she knows from experience that most students won’t approach a teacher or staff. They’re going to wait until they get home. She said the incidents involved in this case were not just at school but also involved social media.
“It obviously clearly cut pretty deep with this girl,” Martinez said.
“You know I used to own a skateboard shop, it was an indoor shop and I moved it to Keokuk. When I went there almost every kid was on probation and when I closed the doors none of them were. People can make a difference and turn these kids around. It’s not 100% on the parents or 100% on the schools. People need to know there are people out here who care. Even the ones doing the bullying, we need to work with them, too.  If the bullies know more people are against it that will show them there is more out of doing good than doing harm.”

Martinez said she would like to arrange a march in the city as well to help bring awareness to the problem and let people see that there is support for these students.

She said the walk won’t take place on Thursday but she wants to get people together to share ideas and maybe come up with a plan to help address the issue. Some ideas she had were possibly having volunteers staff the school yard after school. People that could pass a background check or something that would increase the presence for students after school is out.

“I’m so passionate about it. I work at a domestic violence center and my passion is to help people. I’ve worked with the schools and if there’s anything I can do to make a difference even in one person’s life, it is the greatest high in the world.”

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