Police protecting school under threat after bullying prompts boy's suicide
The Heerlen police arranged extra protection for the Grotius College and its school grounds. The College's director, teachers and students received threats in response to the suicide of 15-year-old student Tharukshan Selvam on Sunday, AD reports.
Tharukshan died during the early hours of Sunday morning. His family published his suicide note, in which he described how he was being bullied at school. He was also being harassed by anonymous social media accounts, believed to be the work of his class mates.
The Sri Lankan' teen's story provoked numerous threats and death treats addressed to the director of Grotius College, several teachers and students. The condolence register the school opened on Wednesday was flooded with responses from across the country. "You should be deeply ashamed, students and school", "Bullies of Tharukshan: you should be deeply ashamed", "How could this happen?" and "This could have been avoided", were just some of the responses.
Frank Schings, director of school organization LVO Parkstad, under which Grotius College falls, announced that the circumstances of the boy's suicide will be investigated. Later on Wednesday the school leaders announced in a press conference that they have asked the Inspectorates for both Education and Youth Care to investigate what happened, according to NU.nl. Heerlen Mayor Ralf Krewinkel will also investigate. The Mayor's investigation will also look into the role of youth care and other health institutions in what happened to Tharukshan.
It is known that both school and municipality had contact with the Selvam family. According to Schings at the press conference, a municipal expertise center first spoke to Tharukshan on December 5th due to the bullying. After that the 15-year-old boy spoke to aid workers on December 28th.
Minister Jet Bussemaker of Education responded to Tharukshan's suicide on television program Jinek on Wednesday evening. She called the death of the Sri Lankan boy "heartbreaking" and called on everyone not to turn a blind eye to bullying. "Do not look away from abuses. If you notice something in your surroundings, report it, discuss it", she said. "And if you can't do so yourself, make sure that experts are involved."
Education State Secretary Sander Dekker also responded to the boy's death. "Heartbreaking. There is no other word for the suicide of 15-year-old Tharukshan from Heerlen." he wrote on his Facebook page. According to Dekker, Tharukshan's death is reminiscent of the deaths of 20-year-old Tim Ribberink and 15-year-old Fleur Bloemen, who both committed suicide in 2012 after continuing bullying. "It shows again that the consequences of bullying can be enormous. We must always remain vigilant that it does not rear its ugly head. And we must continue to emphasize that bullying is unacceptable."
Tharukshan's family describes him as a cheerful boy who always put on a brave face for the outside world, someone close to the family said to De Limburger, speaking on their behalf. At home Tharukshan liked to listen to music, talk with his family members and play some cards. The night of his death they also played cards before going to bed. "I noticed nothing wrong with him. In fact, he was cheerful", the family spo said. A few hours later, Tharukshan's family found him dead in his bedroom.
The Sri Lankan family arrived in the Netherlands about six years ago. They fled Sri Lanka because of the conflict there at the time, but also because the children had a better future in the Netherlands, the spokesman said. Tharukshan went to primary school in Heerlen and quickly adjusted to life in his new home. He got good grades and made friends.
Neighborhood friend Santana, 13, confirmed this picture to the newspaper. "He came to us in group 4. He was a very nice guy, very friendly, always smiling, polite. He always got good marks, was motivated to work. Often made fun jokes, he was definitely not a quiet guy. He was friends with almost everyone because he was so nice. You just accepted him. At primary school he was not bullied. What happened now, we never expected. I saw im regularly. I ran into him, or we planned something. Also saw him often with my girlfriend. We never noticed that something was not right. He smiled through everything. We are really very shocked."
On Tuesday night there was a reunion for Tharukshan's primary school class, after news of the boy's death. "Almost everyone was there. We could all tell our story", Santana said to the newspaper. "At the end we released a wish balloon. Everyone could write a message. 'Dear Tharukshan, you will always hold a special place in my heart, I will never forget you. Rest in peace', I wrote on mine."
Tharukshan's family was flooded with reactions over the past days. "We are trying to get his grandmother from Sri Lanka here for a dignified farewell. He never went back to Sri Lanka. He would have gone for the first time this year, go back and visit his family in his native country during his vacation. A trip he will now never make. That hurts. His grandmother has to instead, with the memories of her grandson. She is devastated. We are too. This should never have happened." the family spokesman said to the newspaper.