YUBA CITY (CBS13) — A 12-year-old girl made one last cry for help before taking her own life, but her parents were never notified.
Now, they are accusing a Yuba City middle school of allowing this to happen. They claim the school never notified them of a text message their daughter sent detailing plans to commit suicide.
“Heartbreak doesn’t begin to describe what this is. This is desolation,” said Morgan Ocheltree, mother to 12-year-old Madison Ocheltree.
The day Madison committed suicide, she turned in all of her homework just like normal. But what seemed fine, really wasn’t.
“We can’t have her back, What we can do is learn and what we can do is not let it happen again,” Ocheltree said.
Ocheltree is suing the Yuba City Unified School District for what she describes as a lost opportunity to save her baby girl. Before Madison took her own life, she texted a friend about her plan to do it in a month. That friend showed the message to a teacher who passed it along to administrators. But what happened next haunts Ocheltree to this day.
“We did not receive a call. We didn’t know that she saw the counselor. We didn’t know that she felt alone or was planning this,” Ocheltree said.
The text message was shown to a teacher on April 5th of this year. Madison committed suicide on May 24th.
Ocheltree believes she could have helped her daughter. The lawsuit accuses the school district of failing to follow its own policies, including notifying a parent of a student’s suicidal intentions. It claims the district “demonstrated deliberate indifference to Madison’s health and safety..and the risk of immediate harm to her.”
“I don’t think anyone intended the death to happen but they might as well have. It was reckless not to do what they should have done,” said Steve Gurnee, the attorney representing the Ocheltree family.
The superintendent of Yuba City Unified, Doreen Osumi, declined to go on camera or comment on the lawsuit. She said in a statement this tragedy left teachers and students grieving. Osumi also said she hopes students know there are people they can turn to if they need help.
“They were obligated to tell us. They should have told us, they did not tell us,” Ocheltree said.
Ocheltree said her daughter was bullied repeatedly at school, but that’s not where she places blame.
“To be honest, my reason is because they are children. They needed as much help as my daughter needed,” she said.
Ocheltree said she just wants the school to make sure this never happens again.
‘We are broken, our family is broken. This can’t be fixed,” she said.