Stephany Daniela Ruidiaz’s parents lost her in just 15 minutes.
The teenager locked the door to take her own life on October 4, three days after her 13th birthday.
Now, after saying goodbye this past weekend, her family demands a thorough investigation by the Department of Education and the city authorities into the allegations of harassment and intimidation that the eighth-grade student would have suffered at the Middle school 217.
They say the abuse started in 2019 and was stopped during the pandemic thanks to virtual classes, but that it resumed with the first day of in-person instruction.
“On Monday we did not sit down to talk to her and we said: ‘Stephanie, please tell us what is happening at school; Let’s go to school.’ They were threatening her with her cell phone and she broke her cell phone so that she wouldn’t continued to threaten, “said Rosa Ruidiaz, mother of young Stephanie.
The Education department said there had been no reports of bullying related to Stephanie’s experience this year.
Noting that the campus has a large number of personnel trained in the Respect for All program, they assured that losing it is a horrible tragedy that continues under investigation.
“She was quite a happy girl, very content. She was very loving. She was an excellent child,” said Daniel Ruidiaz, Stephanie’s father.
Mental health experts warn that even the most attentive parents cannot identify signs of a serious problem and advise researching and consulting resources.
“Harassment can be verbal, physical or social and one has to talk about harassment and ‘bullying’ done through social networks,” said Dr. Miguel Hernández.
“There are resources for parents who want help and they can also call if they need mental health support at 1-800-LIFENET and talk to the school to find out what programs they have for prevention and to help children who are experiencing bullying,” he added Dr. Hernández. “You have to talk with your primary doctor, with your pediatrician because you can save the mental health and even the life of a child who is suffering.”
The health department also has mental health resources available through its website nyc.gov/nycwell