Friends hold vigil for Bennion suicide victim

Posted at 10:27 PM, Nov 30, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-01 19:08:21-05

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah - Friends, family and classmates gathered near Bennion Junior High School to remember a 14-year-old boy who shot himself outside the school on Thursday afternoon.

David Phan, a 9th grade student, stood on a walkway leading to the school at around 3 p.m. Thursday and shot himself in the head in front of students and parents who were walking home from school.

David left school early on Thursday after a meeting with his mother and Bennion's principal; school officials won't say what that meeting was about.

According to Unified Police, David went home, got a pistol from a locked safe, then came back to the bridge and shot himself in front of parents and students.

Friends and family members say David had been bullied and it went too far, but Granite School District officials said on Friday that there had been no recent reports of bullying and that Phan was dealing with multiple personal issues.

"David reported some bullying concerns several years ago when he was in seventh grade to the administration, and since that point in time, our counselors and staff have been making regular contact with him and specifically inquiring with regards to bullying, unfortunately he never reported any more instances," said Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley.

A school counselor identified David as an at-risk student more than a year ago because of multiple educational and personal matters.

Classmate Neriah Green and other students say David was gossiped about and at times taunted for being different and standing out.

"People took it way too far. It should have never gone this far," Green said. "It happened all the time in the halls, in class."

Dozens of students visited a memorial at the spot where David took his own life in hopes of finding comfort as they try to make sense of why a young life ended in such a violent and public way.

David's older brother Don Phan was among those at the memorial. He says his brother was warm, funny and a friend to everyone.

"He loved everyone unconditionally, I guess it just wasn't enough," Don said. "It wasn't enough to get the bullies away."

A funeral for David will be held on Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, located at 5415 South and 4360 West in Kearns. Friends and classmates of David are invited to attend.

Related story:
14-year-old Bennion Jr. High student commits suicide