Bakersfield teen takes own life after bullying, family says

Our county has resources available for those in need

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Family members of 13-year-old Sarah Ullmann confirmed to 17 News she passed away this week after committing suicide.

Ullmann went to Rosedale Middle School and loved cheerleading, karate, and singing.

But her older sister says bullying pushed Sarah over the edge.

In an email, Rosedale Union School District Superintendent Dr. John Mendiburu offered his thoughts and prayers to the Ullmann family. 

Superintendent Mendiburu detailed many programs the district has implemented to address bullying including regular assemblies and discussions on bullying and a Safe School Ambassador program to maintain a safe environment.

Mendiburu says in response to this latest tragedy, a Crisis Intervention Team of psychologists, nurses, counselors and administrators have been providing support and resources for students and staff alike. 

"Teenagers - our youths - have more pressures on them now. Added pressures because of online presence, because of bullying, if they've gone through a stressor, if they're being disciplined, academics," explained clinical psychologist Dr. Corey Gonzales.

Dr. Gonzales pointed out warning signs for parents to look out for.

"If you see a change in your child's behavior, if you see they're more withdrawn, a change in their functioning, they're not sleeping well, they're more depressed or their grades are going down, or they're just not participating as much or they're talking about suicide, it's very important we take this seriously," Gonzales said.

Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Director Bill Walker hopes to break negative perceptions of those who commit suicide with an eye toward prevention.

"Very strong people become suicidal at times, people who have very loving caring family still can be at risk for suicide. So I want to break the stigma a little bit and reach out to anyone who has lost someone to suicide or concerned, that united as a community we can help reduce and eliminate to the smallest factor the impact of suicide," explained Walker.

The most important number to know is Kern's Crisis Hotline at 1-800-991-5272. You can call this line 24 hours a day for advice or if you feel you need to talk through a given issue. 

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