WARRENTON, Mo. – Parents of a Missouri middle school student are reeling after their daughter took her own life following months of alleged harassment – in person and on social media – by the girl's classmates.
Destiny Gleason, 14, hanged herself on Wednesday from a pull-up bar in her bedroom after what her parents describe as relentless bullying culminated in a fight at school last Tuesday. That altercation ended with Destiny being taken away in handcuffs and charged with assault.
"She just wanted everybody to like her, that's all she wanted," Destiny's mother, Stephanie Clark, told KTVI.
Destiny's family moved to Warrenton last summer. She entered Black Hawk Middle School in the fall of 2015.
"At one point they took some photo of some random person's private parts and put Destiny's name across it and spread it around the school," her mother said. "Anything they could possibly do to hurt her and bring her down."
According to her parents, the bullying began in the fall, and even though they say school officials were aware of it, they also say little was done to stop it.
"We tried to be there for her as much as possible and do everything that we possibly could," said Destiny's stepfather Kurtis Clark. "It would have been nice if somebody else would have too, instead of just saying we are going to talk to them, or we had a talk with them and telling them not to talk to each other," he said.
As a result of the fight at school, Destiny was scheduled to start intensive behavioral therapy on Wednesday, but shortly after seeing what her mother described as "mean" Facebook postings about her daughter following the fight, Destiny went to her bedroom, found an extension cord and hanged herself.
All her family can do now is hope her death makes people think, Clark says.
"Words matter," said Stephanie Clark. "That old saying, 'sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me' – well, they will and we lost our daughter because of words."
Superintendent Dr. James Chandler says because of student privacy rights all he can say is the district takes bullying seriously and provides an anonymous hotline to report bullying.
Destiny Gleason's family has scheduled a memorial service for Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Brommelsieck Park in Defiance, Missouri.
A group of parents is also planning a candlelight vigil on 7:30 to 9 p.m. May 17 at the ball fields across from Black Hawk Middle School.
There is also a benefit for Destiny's family scheduled for June 11 at the Bulldog Saloon in Wentzville.
The family has also set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for funeral expenses.