Parents Combat “Suicide by Bullying” After 12-Year-Old

Schmidt, Morgan
Twelve year old Morgan Schmidt was a bright light, beautiful both inside and out.

“She had an electric personality. Brilliant, as far as her intelligence. Extremely responsible, very mature for her age and honestly, perfect in so many ways. As a father, it’s easy for me to say, I was so proud of her,” said Derek Schmidt, Morgan’s dad.

On April 6th, 2014, the seventh-grader at Pleasant Valley Middle School killed herself.

“We woke up on Sunday morning. and we were getting ready for church, and Morgan said she didn’t feel well, her stomach hurt,” Derek said.

Derek says he offered to stay home with Morgan, but she said “No, Dad, I’m fine, just a little bit sick.”

Derek and his wife, Christine, decided to head to Sunday services with their three other children. Morgan kissed and hugged her mom and dad.

Suicide“In hindsight, that morning, I think she was saying goodbye to us with those hugs,” said Christine.

When the family returned that morning, they found Morgan’s lifeless body in the house.

They say there were no signs she had been struggling emotionally, no clues she was in trouble.

“It’s something that torments Christine and I every day as parents. What did we miss? What could we have done different? I honestly don’t know,” said Derek.

They later discovered Morgan had been dealing with some bullying online.

“I knew about the different sites she was on. I was a user on those sites, so I could be monitoring and watching. Did I do it everyday? No, I didn’t,” Christine said.

Her parents say the junior high drama had overwhelmed Morgan, and social media exaggerated the impact of hurtful words.

“We really need to wake people up, wake parents up. Help these kids learn or remember how to be kind to one another; challenge them to make a difference in other people’s lives,” said Christine.

In the wake of their tragedy, the two have started a group called KIC, which stands for Kindness is Contagious.

“I’m trying to get into the schools working and talking to children. We need a wake-up call in this community. We need a dialogue, to bring that education and support into the schools, into our homes, into our families, so this tragedy doesn’t have to happen to other kids,” said Christine.

“It’s a call to action,” Derek said. “A call to action for parents to understand what their children are dealing with and how they’re feeling.”

Over the past year, three other young girls committed suicide in Scott County.

suicide2“I’ve seen a steady increase in kids with anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, self-harm, suicide or attempted suicide. We have an epidemic,” said Joyce Morrison, a longtime counselor at Vera French Mental Health Center in Davenport.

Morgan’s room remains as it did the day she died, right down to the pile of stuffed animals in one corner.

“I cry every single day. I sit on her bed every single day.  That’s what I have to do,” said her mom.

The Schmidts are sharing their story to encourage parents to be vigilant and monitor the social media activity of their kids, and to never underestimate the power of bullying and the potential torment of social media.

“She was clearly dealing with internal struggles, and we firmly believe she didn’t want to burden her family and friends,” said Christine. “If it could happen to Morgan, it could happen to anyone.”

“In our case, there weren’t evident signs,” said Derek. “Her grades were good, she appeared very happy and engaged. But the call to parents is: Don’t assume. They’re dealing with a different set of social pressures that we never had to deal with.”

Shooting at Fort Lee—4th Violent Act of its Kind at Military Installation

imageedit_2_6396265953In an apparent suicide attempt, a female soldier injured herself at the Fort Lee Army base in Virginia around 9 a.m. Monday morning.

Fort Lee was placed on temporary lock-down and an Active Shooter protocol was established after the individual was seen with a gun inside the building.

Officials stated that she began throwing objects and then “the soldier turned the weapon on herself and fired one shot, injuring herself.” She did not wound anyone, other than herself, and an ‘all clear’ was given at around 9:50 a.m.

The shooting took place in a four-story building that, according to a military press release, is the headquarters for the Army’s Combined Arms Support Command.

She barricaded herself on the third floor when the lock-down came. According to officials, there were over 1,100 individuals in the building at the time of the shooting.

According to Stars and Stripes, “The daily population at Fort Lee—25 miles south of Richmond and 130 miles from Washington—is about 34,000, with members from all branches, their families, civilians and contractors. Fort Lee’s website says the installation has seen enormous growth and renovations over the past decade as a result of realignment and closures of bases across the U.S.”

As of yet, Army officials are not releasing the name of the shooter but stated that the soldier shot herself in the head after she had barricaded herself in the building. She is being treated at Virginia commonwealth University Medical Center.

The commanding general at Fort Lee, Maj. Gen. Stephen Lyons, stated that the soldier is a sergeant first class and has been in the Army for 14 years. The gun she used was not a service weapon.

 “We’re going to keep her in our prayers. She’s a soldier, she’s one of our teammates,” Lyons stated. Declining to indicate on her mental health condition or what could have lead up to the incident, Lyons simply said that she was “upset and enraged.”

 “We are sad for our soldier in arms that she faced those kinds of challenges that she felt that she had to resort to those kinds of actions. At the same time we’re grateful because this situation could have been worse.”

 Whether or not the soldier was being treated for mental health issues or if drugs or alcohol could have been a factor, officials are unclear and wont speculate. Lyons also stated that he wasn’t sure if her enraged state during the incident was an indicator of her personality trait or not.

 This shooting at Fort Lee, the fourth of its kind, came just four months after a soldier plagued with mental health issues opened fire killing three people and wounding 16 others at Fort Hood in Texas. This Fort Hood incident was the third of its kind in six months at that military base. Stars and Stripes reports, a civilian truck driver, in March, shot and killed a “sailor aboard a Navy destroyer at Naval Station Norfolk before he was shot and killed by Navy security…In June, authorities said a sailor repeatedly stabbed another near Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. The same installation was placed on lock-down in April when a sailor shot and killed himself inside a barracks there.”

“Monday’s lock-down came days after Fort Lee announced in its official newspaper that a new mass warning and emergency notification system would be activated in the coming weeks…The system allows users to input phone numbers, email addresses or pop-up alerts on any computer that’s part of the main Fort Lee network, the newspaper said.”

180,000 students are trained annually from CASCOM and on Aug 22, Lyons became its new commanding general.


By Lorra B. Chief Writer for Silent Soldier


Could the Massacre at Fort Hood Been prevented?

fort hood 3Representatives Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) introduced The Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members Act (MEPS) six days before the shootings at Fort Hood where Spec. Ivan Lopez opened fire wounding 16 fellow soldiers and killing three. This was the second Fort Hood macaque.

Lopez, the former Puerto Rican Army National Guardsman, was only 34 when the macaque went down. He joined active, non-combat, duty a short time in Iraq in 2011 and was being treated for many disorders. His treatment took place at Fort Hood and consisted of a long list of disorders including sleeplessness, depression, anxiety and a traumatic brain injury he incurred from an accident.

The Tribune-Review stated Thompson saying, “I think it would’ve caught him,” of his bill’s provisions. “That’s my intent. If you change your service, like he did, and go on active duty, I would think that it would catch any underlying psychological conditions.”

The MEPS authorizes psychological screenings for all recruits prior to leaving for boot camp. Those who shift into active duty from the National Guard or from reserves would also be screened.

Extensive physical screenings are required by the Pentagon on all enlistees but absolutely no mental health tests are required.

The bill has the support of many military and mental health advocacy groups and 13 bipartisan supporters. MEPS would allow the military to identify behavioral issues for all recruits joining the military and help prevent suicides by establishing a mental health assessment.

“Despite increased awareness and expanded efforts to address behavioral health issues in the military, our service branches still face challenges when it comes to early detection and prevention. Issues such as Traumatic Brain Injuries, Post-Traumatic Stress, and suicide remain all too common. While the military performs comprehensive physical and medical evaluations, no similar examination for mental health exists,” Rep. Thompson stated. “The Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members Act will institute a preliminary mental health assessment at the time recruits are first joining the military. This small but consequential improvement to recruitment evaluations will help address a recognized knowledge gap within the military and ensure our soldiers are both physically and mentally fit to serve.”

Rep. Ryan stated, “Our military makes sure every serviceman and woman is physically fit for duty and this legislation will ensure that they are also mentally fit. It will also ensure that we have a better baseline against which to measure any potential mental harm they may have incurred during their duty. These men and women put their lives on the line every day in the service of our nation; it is our duty to offer everything in our power to guarantee they return home safely, both physically and mentally.”

Ryan went on to say, “I am heartbroken by the staggering number of our veterans suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).

According to Thompson, several Congress members were “shocked” to find out, after the massacres, that military does not evaluate mental health care of their recruits. One in five soldiers going into the Army gets there with psychiatric issues, according to Thompson. Half of those soldiers inevitably tried to commit suicide before they even enlisted.

Thompson said, “You kind of get beaten up, banged up and even blown up along the way when you go to war.” He went on to say that the soldiers don’t need the “unwarranted“ label of personality disorders used to deny them things such as promotions or benefits.

This is Thompson’s third time in Congress and is also a licensed nursing home administrator as well as a former therapist.

Thompson said that he understood that Fort Hood was “suffering” and that the bill “is something Congress can do for them now.” He indicated that although the effect of the bill won’t be immediate, it will help over time.

By Lorra B, Chief writer for Silent Soldier