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Joshua teen reportedly committed suicide after bullying

A Joshua teen who died Sunday after hanging himself in a barn may have been a bullying victim, a family member said.

Jon Carmichael, 13, was pronounced dead about 10:45 p.m., according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.

His death appears to be the second suicide related to bullying in Johnson County this school year. His aunt, Chrystal Locke, said Jon was bullied at Loften Middle School in Joshua.

Joshua school superintendent Ray Dane told KDFW/Channel 4 that the bullying may have happened during an athletic period and that district administrators plan to determine who may have known about it. The family told the station that school officials knew what was happening.

In October, Hunter Layland's relatives said a scar and hearing difficulties left from a car wreck made that youth a target for bullies at Cleburne High School. Layland, 15, was a freshman at Cleburne who shot himself before school on Sept. 30.

Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford said the department is satisfied that Carmichael's death was self-inflicted, but also said that the department had not received a complaint about alleged bullying. No suicide note was found at the scene, Alford said.

"A complaint would have to be made that some sort of a criminal act precipitated this," he said. "Anytime there is a suicide there will be mitigating factors. But in this case, we really don't know what the cause of this was."

If new information is brought to their attention the department will take another look, Alford said, but investigators are not pursuing new leads in the case at this time.

"This is always a tragedy," he said. "These children take their own lives and they have not even had a chance to experience life yet. It's such a waste."

After Layland's death, Cleburne school officials called an assembly to address bullying in the school district and plan to set up a hotline number for students, staff and parents to call, said Lisa Magers, the school district's communications director.

In November, more than 300 students and 60 school district employees went through a three-day training program designed to turn negative peer pressure into positive peer support, Magers said.

After the training sessions, students and staff were asked to return to school and put what they had learned into action, as well as train others, Magers said. The emphasis placed on these interventions has made a difference, according to Magers, who said she was evaluating reactions to the program on Wednesday.

The program, called RADIO (Revolution Acting Daily In Our schools) "has opened a lot of eyes here," she said. "One student said he could see a new understanding throughout the student body on what harmful words and actions can do. Another talked about how important it was that teachers and staff be involved, get to know the kids and be aware of what is going on. There's a sense that bullying is something that we have to stop. That it's time to take a stand when you see behavior that's cruel or inappropriate."

A Web-based tip line will be expanded this fall to include a hotline number that students, staff and parents can access by telephone, she said.

School bullying has drawn national attention with the recent case in Massachusetts in which nine people have been charged after a 15-year-old girl committed suicide following prolonged harassment and bullying at school.

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