Folsom boy’s suicide prompts district letter Saturday

Folsom Cordova Unified School District Superintendent Deborah Bettencourt expressed the district’s “shock and sadness” at the suicide of student Ronin Shimizu and pointed to district efforts to stop bullying in a letter released Saturday.

Ronin, 12, committed suicide Wednesday. Reports that he was bullied prompted strong reaction, including a candlelight vigil Thursday night and the Internet effort #ripronin.

A seventh-grader at Folsom Cordova Community Charter School, Ronin was a cheerleader in the Vista Eagles cheer squad. Some suggested his participation was the source of the bullying. The district said it investigated and took appropriate action in response to reports of bullying against him.

Bettencourt’s statement stopped short of saying bullying played a role in Ronin’s suicide.

“As we all process our shock and sadness, our school district has understandably received many questions about how we address bullying in our schools,” Bettencourt wrote. “We may never know all of the factors that led to Ronin’s passing, but we share your concern in any case where a child may have endured torment. We must not only talk about bullying, but we must work together to stop it.”

Under the hashtag #ripronin, hundreds of people shared condolences and a call to action on Twitter.

“Sit with someone who’s alone, give a compliments, share a smile. Let people know they ARE important, all we have is each other,” wrote @Emily_Moran45.

“People who think its ‘cool’ to make fun of others make me sick. Bullying has to stop,” offered @AllyChoe.

See more online reaction to Ronin’s death on Storify.

Call The Bee’s Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @NewsFletch.

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