Father: Bullying cut daughter's life short

Sean Philip Cotter
  • Billy Sechrist said his daughter was bullied and couldn't take it anymore.
Fifteen-year-old Shania Sechrist, a student at William Penn Senior High School, took her own life Wednesday, saying she could no longer take being bullied.

Billy Sechrist walked into his York City house Wednesday afternoon, and everything seemed normal.

The TV was on, and his daughter Shania's shoes were by the recliner.

But then he walked farther in. That's when he found her body.

Shania Sechrist had hanged herself, taking her own life after she came home from school.

His 15-year-old daughter left a note, he said; she wrote that she loved her family but couldn't bear the pain of being bullied anymore.

"'I tried telling you something bad would happen, but no one listened,'" he said, crying as he read from her suicide note.

Sechrist said his daughter first told him about the bullying about four months ago. Much of it came through the digital realm — via Facebook and texts.

Billy Sechrist, of York City, shares memories of his daughter, Shania, on Friday, May 27, 2016, at his home. Shania Sechrist, who was 15 and a student at William Penn Senior High School, took her own life after she came home from school Wednesday. Amanda J. Cain photo

He said Shania battled anxiety and depression. A couple of months ago at William Penn Senior High School, where she was a freshman, Shania fought another girl.

"A person can only take so much," Sechrist said.

Both were suspended. Shania was out of school for 60 days; she had been back just a few weeks before she took her own life.

She dreaded returning, her father said. Her mother took her phone away, Sechrist said, in an effort to cut off the digital bullying, but that didn't solve the problem. Kids just kept posting about her on Facebook, he said.

Shania seemed upbeat earlier last week, though, he said.

His daughter, who he said loved to go fishing and ride her bike around town, seemed OK.

Billy Sechrist, of York City, holds a photo collage of his daughter, Shania, at his home Friday, May 27, 2016. Shania Sechrist, who was 15 and a student at William Penn Senior High School, took her own life after she came home from school Wednesday. Amanda J. Cain photo

But she wasn't.

'Devastated': York City Police are investigating Shania's death, which the York County Coroner's Office has ruled a suicide.

The York City School District released a statement Friday afternoon about Shania's death, saying the community is "devastated" by her loss.

"We offer our deepest condolences to Shania’s family and friends," wrote spokeswoman Erin James, who said the fact that police continue to investigate means the district can't weigh in on Sechrist's comments about bullying.

James said counselors have been available to grieving students and staff at the high school since Thursday and will continue to be accessible to any staff or students who need them.

In wake of a suicide, friends and family share message of hope

Resources: There are resources out there for people who are considering suicide. Anyone who is feeling suicidal can call 911 or call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Locally, WellSpan Health has a suicide hotline at (717) 851-5320 or 1-800-673-2496.

An annual Out of the Dark Walk in Harrisburg is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. The walks, put together nationally in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, are aimed at raising money for prevention efforts and helping those hurt by suicide in their families. It has raised $8,590 so far this year.

According to the foundation, the best way to deal with depression and suicidal ideation is to get help. More than half of people who kill themselves suffer from clinical depression, and 1 in 20 to 1 in 12 Americans suffer from depression, according to the group, which has resources on its website.

There's a gofundme page aimed at raising money for Shania's funeral; people had donated $575 as of Monday evening, posting comments about missing the teenager and using the hashtag #StopBullying.

— Reach Sean Cotter atscotter@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.