12-year old hangs himself, parents ask why

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12-year old hangs himself, parents ask why

When a 12-year-old boy was discovered hanged to death in the bathroom of a hagwon (private cram school) in Nowon District, northern Seoul, Tuesday afternoon, his parents couldn’t believe what they were told by police.

The officers said they were sure he committed suicide. He could have been bullied at school, they said, which was often the case with the few number of elementary school children who take their own lives. Or he could have been stressed out from studying.

The boy’s parents adamantly denied those suggestions, saying he left home with a smile on his face that day. He had a bright character, they insisted.

Police said Wednesday that several sources from the boy’s school have come forward with accounts of him being picked on, chiefly because of a nervous disorder that made him twitch his shoulders frequently.

A line in his diary, according to the school, read: “I hate those kids. I’ll never be like them.”

The school said the boy told his sixth-grade homeroom teacher he was being bullied during one-on-one counseling and informed his parents earlier this year. The boy had attended a private school in Seongbuk District, northern Seoul, before transferring to his current school in Nowon in March.

He was also said to be stressed out, according to a source from the school, who cited another passage in his diary that said he felt tired learning golf and kendo, a Japanese martial art.

The hagwon in which he died taught students how to speed read.

Police confirmed the suicide Thursday, citing autopsy results from the National Forensic Service.

On Tuesday at around 5 p.m., the 12-year-old boy was discovered hanging in the bathroom from the strap of his backpack.

It had been around half an hour since he raised his hand during class and asked the instructor if he could use the restroom.

The instructor found the body and informed the hagwon’s owner, who called the police. CCTV footage from the hagwon’s entrance didn’t show any strangers walking in, convincing police that the young boy had committed suicide.

Police said Thursday his parents were grieving over the idea they contributed to his distress by expressing high expectations for his future.

Between 2011 and 2014, 16 elementary school students committed suicide, according to a study by the Suicide and School Mental Health Institute, a research center affiliated with Hallym University in Chuncheon, Gangwon, which was released last year.

Their main problems were conflicts within their family or between friends, as well as school grades. In terms of their grades, most of them ranked in the middle of their class or above.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, JUNG JIN-WOO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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