Simon Dufour was going to turn 16 in December. Instead, his family is now preparing for his funeral.
The Longueuil high school student died following an incident at the Saint-Bruno train station last Thursday. It’s believed his death was a suicide.
His older sister, Karine Dufour, said he loved to laugh, make music and play video games. But he was also the target of repeated bullying.
In a widely shared Facebook post, she asked that anyone who witnesses bullying talk to a teacher, administrator or even their own parents if they feel the issue is not being taken seriously.
“We have to find a way to stop this,” she told Radio-Canada.
Simon’s father, Martin Dufour, said he was aware of the problem and that he warned the high school administration on several occasions, but no concrete action was taken. He said his son appeared to be doing better this year.
“He was smiling,” Dufour said. “We had planned lots of things with him. And then, overnight … like that …”
Education Minister Sébastien Proulx said the situation was extremely distressing and his thoughts are with the family.
“We have to continue to fight bullying,” he said. Proulx declined to comment on the specifics of the case.
The Quebec Association for Suicide Prevention called for caution before associating bullying too quickly with suicide, since there is often not just one cause, but a combination of factors behind such deaths.
But Simon’s family said he was tormented by bullying.
Longueuil police confirmed its investigation into his death has expanded to include the high school he attended. Investigators met with school staff earlier this week.
The Criminal Code includes articles for cases of verbal abuse, such as harassment.
If you’re worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them, says the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning signs:
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Substance abuse.
- Feeling trapped.
- Hopelessness and helplessness.
- Mood changes.