Dutch school receives threats after student's suicide

Image source, Facebook - Thanoshiya Selvam
Image caption,
His family says Tharukshan Selvam was extremely caring and dreamed of becoming a famous vlogger and singer

Police in the Netherlands have stepped up security at a school after staff and students received threats following the suicide of a 15-year-old boy, allegedly due to bullying.

Tharukshan Selvam, from Sri Lanka, left a note saying he was being harassed by other students at Grotius College, in the city of Heerlen, and online.

His family says the school was alerted but did not act.

The death will be investigated by school and city officials.

He took his own life on Sunday, on the last day of the school holiday. His family said he was the victim of racial abuse by other students and was being harassed by anonymous social media accounts, believed to be run by schoolmates.

They also say pupils forced him to spend money on them, only to not pay him back as promised.

The posts included unwanted photos of him and messages such as "Tharukshan die, you're not fit to live. We don't want you. Go jump in front of a train, commit suicide", his sister Saranya said on Facebook.

The family learned of the bullying after his first suicide attempt, in December, according to his sister. He then told police how he was being harassed and that he had tried to talk to his teacher about it, she added.

His family tried to alert the school but they failed to act, the sister said. The student refused to open up at home, she added, because he "didn't want to hurt his family".

"Tharukshan was not the first pupil to go through this at Grotius College. There were many other students who were bullied like this, yet the school made very little effort to prevent such issues," she said.

Image source, Facebook
Image caption,
The note left by Tharukshan Selvam, according to his family, before he took his own life

Police did not reveal the content of the threats but said they were being investigated.

Frank Schings, director of school organisation LVO Parkstad, responsible for Grotius College, said the circumstances of the death and other alleged cases of bullying would be investigated.

"Everyone was devastated. A large number of stories are now coming out from students that also need to be properly investigated. But let us first take the time to mourn," he was quoted as saying by the 1limburg (in Dutch) website.

"What's important now is that everything is properly investigated. And the school will be part of that. Where we've made mistakes we'll acknowledge them. We're also looking for an interpreter so we can have a meeting with the parents as soon as we can as they don't speak Dutch."

A condolence book was flooded with reaction from across the country. Newspaper De Limburger (in Dutch) said some of the messages included: "You should be deeply ashamed, students and school", "Bullies of Tharukshan: you should be deeply ashamed", "How could this happen?" and "This could have been avoided".

His family said it wanted to show the effect of bullying and that victims needed support. "The family don't want to harm the people who were involved in this as what has happened cannot be reversed."

They added: "Cyber bullying is a major issue occurring in this generation and it needs to stop."

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