Following a sleepover, two 14-year-old friends were found hanged last weekend. The families were left puzzling over cryptic notes and Facebook posts, trying to figure out if they had missed the signals — and if bullying was the catalyst.
Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz were 8th-graders in rural Minnesota. There’s evidence that the two girls were tormented at school, but they also seemed to find solidarity in each other. As outlined in a MSNBC article, Haylee was expelled after getting into a fight to defend Paige when other students allegedly bullied her. The question seems to be why their friendship, rather than giving them a reason to believe life was worth living, instead pushed them toward the noose together.
After the explusion, Haylee had posted a note to her aunt: “I’m so sad and feel lonely. I hope I get to be with my friends again soon.” Another family member said Haylee had posted a more puzzling message on Paige’s wall: “I’m so nervous and I just want to get it over with … I love you, Paige.” Haylee’s cousin told MSNBC that the young girl had been made fun of for her weight and her red hair. In her short suicide note, Haylee asked to be buried in a pink casket, surrounded by mourners wearing pink.
One can still see part of Paige’s Facebook page, and the few suggestions of her character seem to speak to the average teen. A hockey player, she had joined a group called “Eat. Sleep. Hockey. Is there anything else?” and another named “I bet this pickle can get more fans than Justin Bieber.” Haylee’s page is restricted, but another has been created in their memory. On it are streams of condolences from people around the world and discussions, some more vengeful than others, about how to tackle the issue of bullying in schools.
MSNBC highlighted a message on that point from Haylee’s family members:
And in a written statement, Haylee’s mother, Tracy Morrison, and her older sister, Ashley George, made it clear that they believe bullying played a critical role in the girls’ deaths. “We need to stop pretending this isn’t happening or that is just a cry for attention because obviously it is not,” they wrote. “This needs to be talked about and we need to try to prevent this by teaching kids in school, community and at home. They need to know they are not alone. It shouldn’t take more tragedies to realize this.”