Local News

Lenoir County Authorities Believe Student Killed Himself Over Grades

Posted October 17, 2003

— Deputies in Lenoir County claim a boy shot himself with his brother's gun all because of his grades.

Deputies say Jonathan Ward, a seventh-grader at E.B. Frink Middle School, got a report card with a few bad marks and a request for a teacher conference. They said he was so upset he returned to his Kinston home and shot himself. Authorities claim Ward was not upset over anything at home.

"This is the type of case that has taken everybody completely by surprise," Lenoir County Sheriff Billy Smith said.

A family friend said the Wards do not know why their son did it. The investigation report said Ward told his brother he "disputed" what his teacher said about not doing his homework. He left a note saying what he was about to do.

"It's disturbing to us as it would be, of course, for the family, the school and the community," Smith said.

The middle school brought in grief counselors to talk with students and teachers. School officials also lowered their flag to half-staff. Smith hopes parents and school officials will take notice and talk to their children about stress.

The Centers for Disease Control says suicide among children younger than 15 is rare, but in recent years, it has increased. From 1980 to 1997, suicides by children between ages 10 and 14 went up 104 percent. Among 15- to 19-year-olds, suicide rates went up 11 percent in the same time frame.

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