Family of Dead Maine Student Point to Bullying as Factor in Suicide

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    Officials are investigating the death of 13-year-old Harley Donna 'Kitty' McGuire

    (NECN: Amy Sinclair) - Both the Waldo County Sheriff's Department and a central Maine school district are investigating the death of a 13-year-old student who attended Mt. View Middle School in Thorndike.

    Harley Donna McGuire, who everyone called "Kitty," committed suicide last Tuesday.

    The family believes she took her life because she was being bullied by other children at school. Donna and Fred McGuire of Troy, who raised Kitty from her infancy, choked back tears remembering their granddaughter.

    "She was a sweet little girl, funny, bright so lively,"said Fred McGuire.

    They say the 13-year-old sixth grader took her own life because she was being bullied, both at school and on the bus.

    "They targeted her for her sexual orientation. One person even kicked her," said McGuire.

    On Monday, some members of the McGuire family held a vigil outside the school to draw attention to Kitty's tragic death and to make sure the circumstances are investigated.

    "We want the guidance counselor and the principal to take action," said McGuire.

    School District Superintendent Heather Perry says that investigation is underway.

    "The school is trying to find out if the allegations are accurate, if so, to what degree? And what happened here?" Perry said.

    Last spring, the Maine Legislature passed an anti-bullying law that defined bullying, expressly prohibited it and mapped out ways schools should investigate allegations. In September, RSE 3 developed its own anti-bullying policies to get into compliance with the new state law.

    "Part of the whole investigation we're conducting is to look into whether those policies followed, and if not, why?" said Perry.

    The McGuires say they also hope other teens will learn to speak up for themselves and for friends who may be targeted.

    "Children need to talk to their parents. Parents need to talk to guidance counselors," said McGuire.

    They say those conversations could save another family from going through the anguish they're facing now.