A stand against bullying

Cynthia White holds up a photo of her great-niece, Eyana White, 12, as she stands Monday during a candlelight vigil surrounded by close friends and family while imploring the gathered crowd to take action and to not let an innocent child die in vain. According to those closest to the seventh grader, relentless bullying at school and online led Eyana to commit suicide by hanging herself in her home Dec. 17.

Cynthia White holds up a photo of her great-niece, Eyana White, 12, as she stands Monday during a candlelight vigil surrounded by close friends and family while imploring the gathered crowd to take action and to not let an innocent child die in vain. According to those closest to the seventh grader, relentless bullying at school and online led Eyana to commit suicide by hanging herself in her home Dec. 17.

Despite below freezing temperatures and light snow falling, several dozen friends and family of a Jefferson City girl who apparently committed suicide after being bullied held a candlelight vigil for her Monday night.

Eyana White attended Lewis and Clark Middle School, where the vigil was held.

Her funeral took place earlier in the day.

The seventh grader was remembered for loving math and science, listening to music and roller skating.

Andrea Hough, a friend of Eyana’s family, organized the event.

“I’m very sad a 12-year-old child has to resort to this and think they have no one to talk to,” she told the crowd. “This bullying needs to stop. There have to be some sort of resources for these kids. This did not have to happen. I’m still in shock. The family has received a lot of negative messages speculating what happened. That’s nobody’s business, and we need to respect the family.”

Many of Eyana’s peers spoke, including an 11-year-old named Kalijah.

“When I first met Eyana I was like ‘wow this could be my best friend,’” he told the crowd. “Her smile just lit up the whole room. I never knew a little kid could go through something like this.”

Adults who spoke encouraged the youths in the crowd to talk to a friend, family member or school counselor if they were being bullied. They also reinforced that taking one’s life is not a way to resolve the problem.

Members of the advocate group JC Youth Watch, which has worked in the past to educate the public on youth drug use in Jefferson City, were on hand for the vigil.

“Kids should never be bullied into silence,” the group posted on their Facebook page. “We as a community need to do our part and stand up for those that feel they have to stand alone. There are signs to look for, most already know most of them, but they choose to ignore because ‘it’s kids, and kids pick on each other.’”

Authorities have not commented on the status of their investigation. Eyana was found dead at her East Side home last Tuesday.

School officials have asked residents who might know more about this case to contact police.

“It was more than one person who was involved,” said Eyana’s mother Rhonda White, prior to Monday night’s vigil. “This has been very tough to take.”

A fund to help Eyana’s family has been set up at gofundme.com.

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