Family of State College teen who died by suicide still seeking answers from investigators


Nearly two months after the death of Abby Smith, her father said they’re no closer to answers about what may have led the 14-year-old to take her own life, and he expressed frustration with the status of ongoing investigations.

Both the State College Area School District and Pennsylvania State Police have ongoing investigations after reports of bullying circulated after Abby’s May 12 death.

Both the district and state police declined to share additional details of those investigations with the Centre Daily Times, and Jonathon Smith said the family has received few updates from either entity.

Smith said he has been disappointed with the investigation process and the lack of transparency regarding where the investigations surrounding Abby stand. He said he understands the legality of protecting other minors involved, but he can’t get information about his daughter or how long the process will take.

“It is frustrating beyond belief,” Smith said. “Because it feels like getting information about what’s going on there feels like pulling teeth.”

Abby, an eighth-grade student at Park Forest Middle School, was a longtime Girl Scout, a member of her school’s band and was looking forward to being a camp leader at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, her father said.

She loved making arts and crafts with her mother and siblings, and sold fans and resin art during Children and Youth Day at the Central Pennsylvania Festival for the Arts for several years.

“She had a lot of anxiety, which I think contributed to her being really quiet,” Smith said. “That really just kind of affected how she would come across to people. But once she got past that, she’s just funny, sweet, caring.”

After Abby’s death, Jonathon Smith and his wife Jen wrote a note to the SCASD community, asking anyone who may have witnessed bullying to come forward and report information to them, school staff, police, teachers or the Safe2Say anonymous tip line.

Since then, Smith said the family has been in limbo waiting for answers they know may never come.

“There may not be any answers,” he said. “There may not be. But it’s frustrating to see some obvious paths of where to look and to know I can’t even look and I can’t get feedback.”

Both Abby’s phone and the account on her school-issued computer are inaccessible to the family, Smith said. Abby’s computer was deactivated two days after her death, and although Smith has been able to recover files from her computer drive, he is unable to see what websites she may have had open at the time of her death due to the computer’s deactivation.

State police retrieved Abby’s phone on May 12 but were only able to access its contents a week later when given a list of possible PIN numbers from the family.

When Smith last spoke to state police on June 2, the phone was still in the queue for the digital data download, with no updates on when the process would move along.

State police at Rockview station confirmed it was handling Abby’s case in an email to the CDT, calling it an active and ongoing investigation.

State College Area School District administrators could not comment on any specifics but said it continues to investigate any reports relating to Abby.

“Credible reports are always addressed confidentially, according to our student handbook,” an administration official wrote in an email to the CDT.

“Additionally, as we prepare for next school year, we have begun implementing plans to ensure students feel welcomed and safe in our schools.”

SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES

Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Call or text 988 or chat at 988Lifeline.org

Center for Community Resources: Visit 2100 E. College Ave., State College, 24/7



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top