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Parents say bullying at school caused death of 13 year-old girl in Hallsville

Tuesday marked exactly a week since the death of 13 year-old Rylie Wagner of Hallsville.

Hallsville residents gathered at a nearby park for a candlelight vigil Tuesday night in remembrance of Rylie.

Friends, classmates, neighbors and her parents described her as a kind girl, who would stick up for her friends who were bullied, including her sister. Her parents spoke with ABC 17 News at the vigil and said it is hard to imagine a life without her.

“I feel lost,” Renee Overstreet, Rylie’s mother said. “But we have our faith and we have a lot of support.”

Rylie’s parents said that Rylie was bullied at school and that is what ultimately what lead up to her taking her own life.

“The girls would come up to her in school almost every day and say why don’t you just go kill yourself,” Keith Overstreet, Rylie’s stepfather said.

Overstreet said Rylie visited the counselor before taking her life but not enough was done in trying to stop the problem.

The Hallsville School District tells ABC 17 News they sent out letters to parents regarding resources for grief counseling but Rylie’s parents said that was too late.

Riley Garrigus of Sedalia

The candlelight vigil of Rylie Wagner comes after Riley Garrigus of Sedalia took her own life last Saturday. Her father, Ralph Garrigus, said bullying also played a factor.

Both Wagner and Garrigus’s family said they believe both school districts could have done more in preventing their children from taking their own life.

Garrigus’s father told ABC 17 that the Sedalia School District doesn’t have a proper procedure in place to address bullying and mental health.

“Currently, we have a program that you have to fill out a paper if you feel like you’re commit suicide. To me, that’s unacceptable,” Garrigus said.

The Sedalia School District says it has been in the process of implementing a suicide prevention program over the past few months. The program provides training to teachers, staff members, and student leaders in recognizing the signs of suicidal behavior.

Friends and family are planning a protest at 1 p.m. Thursday in front of Smith-Cotton High School


The recent deaths by suicide in mid-Missouri are just some of the more than 1,000 that happened in Missouri in 2015.

According to the CDC 121 suicides happen per day; in Missouri one person dies every eight hours.

ABC 17 News spoke with the MU Counseling Center who says adolescents, teens, and university students are among the highest at risk.

“We use to think of this as an adult problem,” Christy Hatton, assistant director of outreach and prevention, said. “Now we really think this is a concern at much younger ages.”

Hatton says having mental health resources in school is important in prevention.

“Nationally 86 percent of students never make it to their counseling center,” Hatton said. “We know from data that when students do get to us within six sessions that risk for suicide drops tremendously.”

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