BEND, Ore. — A lawsuit recently filed in Deschutes County Circuit Court claims a 14-year-old black student at a Bend high school was bullied and racially harassed to the point that he died by suicide in 2017.
The family of Deshaun Adderley is seeking $400,000 for wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress from the Bend-La Pine School District, Deschutes County and 10 students who are not named.
Bryan Donahue is representing the Adderley family in the lawsuit. He said their biggest hope is this lawsuit will change the culture of bullying and how staff respond to reports of bullying.
They want to make sure no other student goes through what Deshaun went through.
“Our number one hope and the hope for the family is frankly, just to put the community and the students and families of Bend-La Pine in a better educational environment, one that’s free of intimidation,” Donahue said. “You know, the allegations of conduct that are in this complaint are not isolated incidents to Bend-La Pine. These are things that are going on throughout Oregon and frankly, I think throughout America."
The suit also says that several days before Adderley's death a video of him in a physical altercation in a Summit High School bathroom was posted on social media.
A lawyer for Deschutes County said they are reviewing the allegations and plan to defend all claims asserted against the county.
Bend-La Pine School District said it had not yet been served with a copy of the lawsuit, but is aware of it.
Nationally, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among young people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kids who report frequently bullying others and those who are frequently bullied are at an increased risk of suicide-related behavior.
There are many organizations working to stop bullying, including one called Stand for Courage that started here in the northwest.
Michael Angyus, who is now in college, got involved while in high school in Portland.
“We've all been the victim, the bystander, and the bully and so I think we all need to sort of shift that thinking inside of our heads and that behavior inside of our heads, so that we can prevent when things do rise and sort of turn into these massive events that get people's attention,” Angyus said.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255. The Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 crisis support by text. Text 741741 to be connected to a trained counselor.
Help is available for community members struggling from a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts. Suicide is preventable.
The Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center is available 24 hours a day at 503-988-4888.
If you or someone you know needs help with suicidal thoughts or is otherwise in an immediate mental health crisis, please visit Cascadia or call 503-963-2575. Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare has an urgent walk-in clinic, open from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., 7 days a week. Payment is not necessary.
Information about the Portland Police Bureau's Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) and additional resources can be found by visiting http://portlandoregon.gov/police/bhu