Ten-year-old Alison Wendel took her own life at her Santa Ana, California home Sunday night. Now detectives are looking into whether she was the victim of bullying. This follows the recent suicide of 10-year-old Kevin Reese Jr. and 16-year-old Channing Smith due to bullying and harassment.
“She was a beautiful little girl full of happiness, and she was always smiling,” Wendel’s cousin Bonnie Mesinas told KTLA.
Wendel was found dead by her 9-year-old sister. Police say there was no suicide note.
Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told KTLA he’d heard Wendel was bullied. “As part of [the] investigation, we have heard the rumors that there may have been some bullying involved,” he said. “Obviously we need to investigate that. At this point, we don’t know what happened.”
Investigators will take a look at Wendel’s social media accounts and electronic devices. They will also interview her classmates at Hazard Elementary School, some of whom told KTLA they believe Wendel was bullied because there was evidence of it on social media.
If police determine bullying led to Wendel’s death, they will then need to identify the offenders and decide if they will be charged with a crime. Much of that will depend on the bullies’ ages.
“Those are all things we would have to submit to the district attorney,” said Bertagna. “Because of the age, that would be an issue.”
The Garden Grove Unified School District says crisis counselors are currently on campus to talk with students. The district released a statement touting their commitment to a “positive school culture.”
“Hazard Elementary, as well as the district as a whole, are committed to … developing personal skills in students, which includes their socio-economic wellness and a warm and welcoming climate at school,” said the statement. “Recently, the district launched a Choose Wellness Campaign aimed at increasing awareness and ensuring all students, staff, and families have access to mental health and wellness support.”
The district is assisting police with the investigation into Wendel’s death.
According to the Megan Meier Foundation, kids who have been bullied are nearly two times more likely to attempt suicide. Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-34.
Wendel’s family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the little girl’s funeral, as well as counseling for her younger sister.
If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone right away. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.