April 12, 2013

After suicide, Maine school hosts forum on prevention

The community forum follows the suicide of 13-year-old sixth-grader Kitty McGuire last month.

By RACHEL OHM Morning Sentinel

THORNDIKE – Family members and friends of Kitty McGuire say they continue to grieve for the 13-year-old girl who committed suicide last month.

click image to enlarge

Deb McIntyre, left, comforts Katelin Lewis, 11, center, a sixth-grader at Mount View High School in the hall of Mount View High School following the Community Forum on suicide prevention and grieving on Thursday evening. The purpose of the forum is to provide information and resources about suicide and suicide prevention.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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On Thursday, the school district where the girl was a student hosted a community forum on suicide prevention and grieving that included presentations by the National Alliance on Mental Illness and two parents of children who committed suicide.

"There are some good resources, and I'm happy to see that they are available to the community, but I haven't heard anything about action against bullying," said Tim McGuire, Kitty's uncle.

Some parents and students at Mount View Middle School said the school district must better address a bullying problem that might have been a factor in the death of Kitty McGuire, who was a sixth-grader at the school.

Allegations that bullying was a factor are still under investigation, said Heather Perry, superintendent of School Administrative District 3.

"Like any school in the state and in the nation, we do have bullying, but I have faith that the policies and procedures we have in place can address that problem accordingly," Perry said.

On Sunday, the Maine Sunday Telegram reported that details about the girl's life indicated that bullying may be too simple an explanation of what led to her suicide.

There were signs that she had trouble coping with the suicide a year earlier of a beloved uncle, the Telegram found.

Her family members agreed that Kitty showed few, if any, signs of being suicidal.

The school, which has a defined anti-bullying policy, said it received no reports that Kitty was bullied.

Kaetlin Lewis, 11, of Jackson, a friend of Kitty who attended the forum Thursday night with her mother, Rebecca Lewis, said her friend was called names and made fun of because of her sexuality.

She said that Kitty threatened to kill herself previously, and that she went to the school's guidance counselor several times.

Another friend, Sylvia Small, 12, of Monroe, said that in the days after Kitty's death she was "appalled" at how the school handled it.

She said counseling was available to her because she was close to Kitty, but other students weren't given the same amount of time to see counselors.

"I was told to get over it and move on. I felt angry, sad and ashamed of my feelings," Small said.

"I wish they'd had something like (the forum) sooner."

Carrie Horne, assistant director of the Maine chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, cited three steps for talking about and preventing suicide: overcoming fear of the topic; listening to what the person you are concerned about says; and being prepared to help.

Some people who were close to Kitty said there were red flags that should have been given more attention, including her uncle's suicide and the fact that she struggled to figure out her sexual identity.


Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:



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