A 13-year-old girl from the central Israeli town of Kfar Saba ended her life on Tuesday, hours after reportedly missing an annual school outing for financial reasons.
While parents of other students blamed the school and Education Ministry for ignoring the family’s dire economic situation that resulted in her missing the trip and killing herself, the girl’s friends and classmates said she had been suicidal in the months leading up to Tuesday’s tragedy.
On Tuesday morning, the girl arrived at school with her father only to discover it empty because all of the staff and student body had already left for the annual school trip.
They returned home, and several hours later, the father discovered his daughter had hung herself in her bedroom.
A parent told Channel 2 that the girl regularly missed extracurricular activities and trips due to the family’s economic situation.
“My daughter told me that the girl was ashamed to tell her parents about the trip because she knew they had no money to pay for it,” the parent said. “They knew of her financial distress and no one raised a finger in order to find her a solution.”
A number of classmates told the Hebrew daily Haaretz that the girl openly talked of how her life was not worth living on several occasions in recent months.
In a text message sent to a group of friends last month, the 8th grader wrote: “Lately I feel like I’m nothing. I have no one to protect me or talk to, and you’ve made me feel like a spec of bacteria, and that you’ve never truly included me.”
“You’ve never treated me like a human being, but like a clown that’s just here to entertain you,” she wrote before lamenting how they constantly gossiped about each other.
Another classmate said the school counselor was alerted after the girl attempted to stab herself during a lesson in April. A school official told Haaretz the girl denied trying to hurt herself and the counselor released her after finding no signs she was suicidal.
A statement from the Education Ministry said the family was known to welfare services and was receiving assistance, and that a financial arrangement was made between the school and parents weeks before the trip.
The statement said the school waited for the girl for over two hours on Tuesday morning and tried calling her parents before finally leaving without her.
Education Ministry director-general Michal Cohen called the tragedy “extremely difficult,” and said an investigation into the circumstances of the incident had been launched.
News of the girl’s death surprised family members, who said they were unaware of her social problems at school.
“We really didn’t expect this — she was accepted and always had friends over,” a family member told Haaretz. “We didn’t know she felt this way, that she was ignored or laughed at. “We are so angry at ourselves for not seeing it, outwardly everything seemed fine.”
The girl was buried in Kfar Saba on Wednesday afternoon.