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Bullying not ruled out in Hanover teen's suicide
Police are investigating to determine if bullying was a factor in the death of a 14-year-old Hanover boy who took his own life over the weekend.
Bryan Doll Jr. died Saturday, Feb. 3 at his home, according to York County Coroner Pam Gay.
Gay said cause of death was determined to be hanging, and the manner of Bryan's death is suicide.
Bullying has not been ruled out as a contributing factor in the teen's decision to end his life, according to Gay.
Hanover Police Chief Chad Martin confirmed his department is "looking at whether bullying played a part in this."
Investigators are going through Bryan's phone and computer records, he confirmed.
Social media: Martin said the "constant bombardment of social media ... puts a lot more pressure" on teens today than there was before the rise of social media.
And unlike bullying of the past, which a young person could leave behind when he or she went home for the day, there's no escape from cyber-bullying, the chief said.
Martin said that at this point, he doesn't know for sure the teen was bullied, and if so, whether bullying factored into Bryan's decision.
Bryan attended eighth grade at Emory H. Markle Intermediate School and played violin, drums and keyboard, according to his obituary. He was a voracious reader as well.
South Western School District superintendent Jay Burkhart issued an alert to parents via email and text that there had been a tragedy in the district. He didn't name Bryan, but said a student died.
Counselors "and other supports" were available at all South Western school buildings Monday, in case students wanted to speak with someone after learning about Bryan's death, Burkhart wrote.
Expert weighs in: Cindy Richard, executive director and founder of Suicide Prevention of York, said Bryan is the second 14-year-old in less than a week to commit suicide in York County.
"Persistent bullying can lead to feelings of isolation, seclusion and rejection — and can lead to depression and anxiety, which are contributors to suicide," she said.
Asked why it can be so difficult to convince young people that their lives will get better, Richard said it's "because they're in a moment and they're impulsive and they just don't know how to cope. ... They think their world is coming to an end."
Richard, a certified suicide assessment interventionist, said children need to know they can go to their parents to discuss suicidal feelings, bullying, depression and whatever is bothering them.
Teens and children who don't want to talk to their parents should confide in a trusted adult, or even a close friend, she urged.
"We've seen a lot of suicides over the past few years that were based on bullying," she said.
Is something wrong? Richard said signs to watch for include: if a teen starts giving away prized possessions; withdraws from friends and social situations; doesn't want to go to school; gives up on extracurricular activities and hobbies; has increased anxiety or irritability; exhibits anger or hostility that is out of character for the teen; is sleeping significantly more or less than normal; or has a drop in grades.
Stressors at school and at home can cause depression or anxiety in a teen that can lead to suicidal thoughts, she said, adding that teens' changing hormones can make anxiety and depression worse.
Richard said she conducts suicide-prevention training at a number of school districts in York County, including in South Western School District. The district has done a good job with providing training to its staff, she said.
Finding, offering help: For help or more information, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's website, suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Its toll-free hotline is 800-273-8255.
An online fundraiser to help defray funeral costs had raised more than $3,200 by Monday night. To donate, visit gofundme.com/bryan-doll-funeral-funds.
Memorial contributions in Bryan's name may be made to Olivia’s House, 101 Baltimore St, Hanover, PA 17331, according to his obituary. Olivia's House is a grief and loss center for children and youths.
Anyone with information about whether Bryan was bullied is asked to call police at 717-637-5575.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.