CEDAR FALLS — Police are investigating whether bullying was involved in the suicide death of a Cedar Falls High School student earlier this week.
“We are confirming there was a suicide. We’re investigating the matter to see if bullying was involved,” said Jeff Olson, Cedar Falls public safety director and chief of police.
“We are aware that there were some claims of bullying and we’ve seen what was floating around on social media, so we have opened up an investigation,” Olson said. “We’re working closely with the (Black Hawk) County Attorney’s Office to determine if we have any law violations or not with social media posts and communications with the deceased. I can’t comment on what the posts say. But I can comment that we are aware of comments that were made, both in person and through social media, and we’re certainly looking into that.”
Olson said police are not releasing the deceased student’s name. Pending consultation with the county attorney, he declined to say how severe a charge could result from the incident if a violation of law were found.
Cedar Falls Schools spokeswoman Janelle Darst said, “We are working with the police on the investigation.”
She said school district officials were made aware of the death early Tuesday. The death was in a private location.
Darst also provided a letter Cedar Falls High School Principal Jason Wedgebury sent to parents about the matter.
“All of us at CFHS were saddened to receive news this morning of the death of one of our students. Our counselors, teachers and staff are assisting in helping students deal with this news,” Wedgebury wrote.
He provided parents and caregivers guidelines on how to discuss and address the matter with their students. He encouraged them to:
Be available and willing to discuss the events and honestly share your feelings about them.
Allow children to express fears and feelings. Let them question things without being judgmental.
Maintain daily routines, as it offers students a sense of security.
Be present and watchful of children in the days and weeks ahead. Watch for any changes in behavior. If you do notice changes, talk them over with a school counselor or a family doctor.
Give assurance of love, support and safety.
Be patient. Children may express a variety of emotions within a short period of time.
“The most important things we should do is be supportive and encourage discussion about the events, our feelings, and what we can do in response to it,” Wedgebury wrote. “Our thoughts are with the family, friends and all those impacted.”