Teenage bullying, suicide awareness gets notice in Muncie IN
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - Lana Swoape has good days and bad days as she deals with the suicide of her daughter, Tori, who was tormented by teenage bullies in Bloomington.
Tori hung herself with a scarf, and her mother found her as friends and others did not realize how upset she was about being bullied. Some of her last words were that she did not want to talk with no one.
On Saturday, Lana Swoape, who was recovering from a heart attack, had a fair at Canan Commons to bring the community together to talk about the issues that schools and adults sometimes ignore. About 200 people showed to to remember Tori and heard messages by anti-bullying and suicide prevention professionals.
Tori's mother talked about how difficult it was to accept what happened, adding that she had the move forward for the sake of her other children, Jordan, who is a junior at Indiana University, and Zoey Book, an third grader.
Zoey performed for the crowd and wore a stop bullying for Tori tee-shirt as did teenager Indiyah Balfour.
Angie Staggy, who works with the Bully Police of Indiana, said Swoape helped the group pass a law making schools monitor and report bullying incidents and includes bullying online or by social media.
Staggy's daughter, Chelsea, also was victim of bullying and assault.
"She did no more that try to help people," said Staggy.
A group of parents tired of school administrators ignoring or denying bullying asked lawmakers to intervene, given some teenage suicides were connected. When Tori died, the principal at Bloomington North said no evidence of bullying was found.
The new law requires school corporations to report bullying incidents and also take steps to provide help to victims and take action against offenders.
Christopher Drapheu, a graduate student in educational psychology, believed more education and awareness was needed to prevent suicide, given many people never recognize depression, obsession or other mental conditions that could trigger a life taking event. Drapheu also is co-chairman of the East Central Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition.
One of the startling facts Drapeau offered was that a suicide happens every four days in eastern Indiana and thousands are reported every year in the state. And suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States and the third leading cause of youth between 15 and 24 years old.
Lana Swoape and daughter Zoey Book