Bullying Ruled Out in 10-Year-Old Santa Ana Girl’s Suicide: Police
Detectives have ruled out bullying as the cause behind the suicide of a 10-year-old Santa Ana girl, police said Wednesday.
Authorities first announced an investigation into Allison Wendel’s death last Tuesday, two days after the girl was found dead in her Santa Ana home on Oct. 13.
Relatives said they were shocked by the news, and Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told KTLA that, as far as he knew, Wendel did not leave a note.
Wendel was a student at Hazard Elementary School in Garden Grove, and police began investigating rumors that she had been bullied by other students there.
Detectives interviewed over 50 students at the school, along with more than 30 adults including school staff, family members and friends, according to a news release the department issued Wednesday.
Investigators said they also combed through more than 2,500 videos and social media posts from Wendel’s classmates.
While several police uncovered posts they describe as mean-spirited, officials say none of them rose to the level of bullying or criminal conduct.
Detectives say they haven’t been able to identify a triggering event that led Wendel to take her own life.
The Garden Grove Unified School District assisted in the investigation, and is collaborating with police in providing resources to students and families affected by the death.
In a statement, the district said that students’ physical and emotional well-being is its highest priority.
“In recent years, the district has increased its number of school psychologists and social workers and expanded counseling services,” the statement read. “This tragic incident has further highlighted the need to continue increasing educational resources for staff, parents, and students about mental health, suicide warning signs, and safe online activity.”
In its news release, the Police Department said Wendel’s death “tragically affected our community and impacted the lives of numerous small children.”
A GoFundMe campaign set up to raise funds for the 10-year-old’s funeral and counseling for her 9-year-old sister, who police say found the body, has exceeded its $30,000 goal.
Editor’s note: If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, please remember help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also call a loved one, member of the clergy or 911.
The California Peer-Run Warm Line also offers free support for non-emergency mental health issues, and can be reached at 1-855-845-7415 on Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.