Bullying investigated in Ala. death

Teen who killed herself had been ‘made fun of daily’

By Jay Reeves
Associated Press / May 14, 2010

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A 15-year-old high school student who jumped to her death from an interstate overpass complained of bullying at school and never got over losing her sister in a freak accident — factors that the coroner said yesterday probably played a role in her suicide.

Chilton County Coroner Randall Yeargan said Alex Moore of Jemison left her rural home early Wednesday and walked to an overpass above Interstate 65. Several drivers on the highway saw her plunge, Yeargan said.

The death was ruled a suicide, Yeargan said, and investigators are trying to determine how much of a role bullying played. The teen’s father said the girl expressed anger and grief over her sister’s death in a suicide note, but did not mention bullying.

The coroner said Moore clearly was having a hard time at Jemison High School, located in a farming community in central Alabama about 40 miles south of Birmingham.

“The word we’re getting is that she had been harassed or bullied by other kids. You know, kids are cruel. She wasn’t in the ‘in’ crowd,’’ he said. “And, she was having considerable problems with the loss of her sister. That may have played as much a role in it as the bullying.’’

The teen’s father, Jim Moore, said that relatives didn’t know the extent of the bullying and teasing Alex had endured until after messages from classmates began appearing on Facebook pages following her death. She talked of teasing, bullying on the school bus, and some boys “messing with her stuff’’ recently, he said, but it didn’t seem to be a major problem.

“She was a good kid, a Christian girl. She loved animals,’’ he said. “[But] she was overweight, she didn’t have a lot of friends, and wasn’t in the ‘in’ clique.’’

Jim Moore said Alex’s older sister, 25-year-old Lesley Anne Moore, died about two years ago after stepping into live electrical wires that had been knocked down in an automobile accident. Alex believed the driver should have been held accountable and was upset when he wasn’t, Moore said.

Because of that experience, Alex didn’t trust authorities and may not have been willing to tell administrators about bullying at school, Moore said. She complained to an assistant principal recently about harassment from male students, he said, but she let the matter drop after an administrator talked to the youths.

Moore said neither he nor Alex’s mother realized what was happening at school until classmates and friends created Facebook postings and groups talking about all the bullying and harassment she endured. In some postings, students apologize for being mean to her. One student began a group that said the teen “was made fun of daily.’’