in 2016, when Ellizabeth “Lizzy” Jacobson was 10 years old, she lost her father to a drug overdose. After her father’s death, she began experiencing bullying.
According to her mother, Rebecka Coughlin, her daughter’s “loving” and “joyful” personality made Jacobson strong enough to console her mother after her father passed, even though she was experiencing hurt as well.
Her father’s death ultimately caused her world to turn upside down. Coughlin told the Gazette Extra that Jacobson took her own life on May 26 because of the bullying that stemmed from her father’s death.
Coughlin told the Gazette Extra that prior to her husband’s death, Jacobson was beloved by all of her classmates:
“They all loved her before her dad died, and then she felt like her world just crumbled. I don’t know if it’s easy to teach kids understanding on a subject like that, but they should be more sympathetic to it.”
The mom said her husband’s death was “this big open, sore wound, and they were just, like, throwing rocks into it.” Coughlin described some of the bullying Jacobson endured over the last two years:
“Kids would tell her he died because he didn’t want to be around her anymore.”
Those kids also suggested to Jacobson that she needed to die like her father did.
The bullying only got worse after Jacobson moved from her elementary school to middle school at the beginning of sixth grade. She started faking sick in order to avoid school.
Coughlin told the Gazette Extra about the time a former friend of Jacobson’s reached out to her this past spring.
According to the Gazette Extra, the former friend asked Jacobson if she wanted to sleep over. Jacobson was thrilled about the invite:
“It was all she could talk about for a couple of days because she missed her friend.”
Sadly, the invitation turned out to be a trap. The former friend had also invited a third girl to the sleepover and the two of them ganged up on Jacobson by teasing her and taking her phone.
She was so rattled by the incident that Coughlin had to pick her daughter up later that same night.
Coughlin told the Gazette Extra that she had reported the many incidents to the officials at Jacobson’s school.
The school told Coughlin that some of Jacobson’s peers had also reported that Jacobson was being bullied and that “they would talk to the offenders.”
However, the talk that was allegedly had with Jacobson’s bullies didn’t help. As a result, Coughlin started to consider enrolling Jacobson in online school following her sixth grade year.
Now she wishes she would have pulled her out sooner.
The school district spokesman Patrick Gasper released this statement regarding the school’s bullying policy:
The staff works hard to model respectful behavior and ensure that students treat each other politely and in a caring manner. Let’s be clear that we would certainly act if any bullying in school was reported and substantiated.
We need the help of friends and family to extend our efforts beyond the school day/buildings.
Another letter was released by Franklin Middle School on Tuesday following Jacobson’s death:
For those of you who knew Ellizabeth, we ask that you remember her as the kind-hearted young woman that she was. For those of you who did not know Ellizabeth, we ask that you respect our sadness and support us with your understanding.
Now Coughlin is only left with the blanket her daughter made her when her husband died. She is sharing Jacobson’s story in order to continue the work her daughter started just days before her death.
As Coughlin told the Gazette Extra, Jacobson wanted “to start helping people.” She started doing so by taking her friends on walks during gym class where they would talk “about how they could deal with their stress.”
Coughlin said she has been gaining support for her ideas on how to end bullying from other parents of student at Franklin Middle School.
Jacobson’s friends are also working on building an “anti bullying” float for their Labor Day parade in September. Coughlin said:
“I’m so glad she won’t be dying in vain. And I know I’m going to do whatever I can to stand against this. I won’t let this happen again.”
According to Been Bullied, 28 percent of United States students in grades six through 12 experienced bullying and approximately 30 percent of young people admit to bullying others in surveys.
Been Bullied also reports that 70.6 percent of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools and 70.4 percent of school staff have seen bullying. It is also believed that about 57 percent of the time, when a bystander intervenes, bullying stops within 10 seconds.
A GoFundMe account has been created in Jacobson’s honor to raise money for her funeral expenses.