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Father says bullying caused 12-year-old son’s suicide

YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- A York County father says bullying is to blame for the recent suicide of his 12-year-old son. He says his son was bullied while riding the school bus, at school, and online.

"I lost my son because of other kids' words," said Dave Potts of York County.

Dave Potts is now left with just photos of his son, Ashton.

"Every single one of them bring back memories," said Potts.

According to Potts, Ashton loved the beach, enjoyed playing football, and had the biggest heart.

"He would go out of his way for anybody. He loved other kids, and babies, and animals," explained Potts.

Potts says Ashton recently took his own life because of bullying.

"He was bullied bad in school and on the school bus," added Potts.

Ashton was attending Northeastern Middle School in York County. This year, Potts thought things might be different for his son.

"This year, we didn't really know too much. He say too much about it. We asked him about it. he just started middle school. He said he liked having a locker," said Potts.

We found the Northeastern Middle School student handbook online, and within it, an outline of the anti-bullying program.

Part of it reads, any type of harassment could result in disciplinary consequences and/or police charges.

Ashton's grandfather says that's not enough.

"They need to buckle down, really. They say it's zero-tolerance, but it's not. They can put all the posters up on the walls they want, but when a child does something, they need to be held accountable for it," said Marshall Busser, Ashton's grandfather.

According to a mental health specialist for York County, suicide is becoming more common among today's youth.

It's important for adults to recognize the warning signs and crucial children have someone in their lives they can trust.

"One of the most important thing is actually a protective factor is having one person, one adult person close to you. That's actually a protective factor. That's the number one protective factor for youth, believe it or not, because if you think about it, it's that role model. It's the person that's constant," explained Dalynet Torres-Cruz, a mental health specialist and board member for York County Suicide Prevention.

Ashton's father says Newberry Township Police are investigating his son's death. FOX43 reached out to the police department and the school district; no one has gotten back to us yet.

If you or some one you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

There's also Suicide Prevention of York and Prevent Suicide Pa.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: "There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors and health issues converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair."

Here are some warning signs:

Talk

If a person talks about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain

Behavior

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression
  • Fatigue

Mood

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation/Shame
  • Agitation/Anger
  • Relief/Sudden Improvement