Man sues Duluth school after son's death, says staff ignored bullying


A Duluth father whose 13-year-old son died by suicide is suing the school district.

Todd Seehus filed documents saying his son, Tristan, had been bullied and the school didn't do anything to stop it.

Tristan was "subjected to severe and pervasive harassment based on his actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender expression," the papers say.

The document goes on to note that the harassment Tristan endured was more than verbal.

It says other students physically attacked him, knocking books out of his hands and slamming him into lockers.

The abuse is said to have happened on Lincoln Park Middle School property – occasionally in front of school officials and surveillance cameras – and Seehus says school workers ignored and dismissed the bullying.

Then Feb. 12, 2015, the teenager took his own life.

The lawsuit says his death was a "foreseeable result of (the school's) failure to provide him a safe educational environment."

The Star Tribune says the district has put out a statement defending its policies on bullying.

“While we can’t comment specifically on the litigation, it’s important to know that our schools endeavor to create an environment where all students are treated with respect and to validate the rights of all students to a safe and welcoming environment,” a district statement said.

Bullying and suicide facts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in 2013, one in five high schoolers reported being bullied on school property.

Meanwhile, 81.9 percent of students who identified as LGBTQ in 2011 reported being bullied.

According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death in people between 10 and 24 years of age. It's responsible for about 4,600 lives lost each year.

Sixteen percent of high school students said they considered suicide over the course of a year – 13 percent reported making a plan and 8 percent said they actually attempted it.

Those who are victims of bullying are up to nine times more likely to consider suicide.

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