UPDATE: Hamilton County school board member says child's death 'not a bullying incident'
UPDATE, October 24, 2019: Hamilton County School Board member Tiffanie Robinson, who spoke to the County Commission yesterday, wants to clarify some of the information that has been shared about the student’s death.
“We now know it was not a bullying-related incident. Orchard Knob Elementary School has a strong learning environment. The investigation is continuing as to why this tragedy occurred.”
A Chattanooga community is mourning the loss of an elementary school student who took his own life.
The child, who police and school officials have not named, died Tuesday night at Bayberry Apartments on Wilson Street.
Support staff spent the day at Orchard Knob Elementary School Wednesday to help students and faculty members.
Less than 24 hours after police gathered at a Wilson Street apartment complex, school board member Tiffanie Robinson confirmed what officers would not.
"I received a call that a 4th grader in my district committed suicide," Robinson told Hamilton County commissioners during Wednesday's meeting.
Robinson said this isn't the first time as a board member she's received this type of news.
"Anytime this happens, it shakes me to my core. And it's not because it's simply a child in my district, it's because children are the heartbeat of our community," she added.
School district spokesperson Tim Hensley said extra counselors, social workers and administrators were ready to offer support as students arrived to class Wednesday.
The topic of school counselors has been one of recent debate during school funding conversations between commissioners and the school board, on which Robinson sits.
"Immediately I thought about the mother, the parents, I thought of anyone associated with this child," Robinson said. "But more importantly I thought of how did we get to this point, where a 4th grades feel like they have to take their own life?"
And with that question came Robinson's plea for elected officials in Hamilton County to work together and help prevent other families from experiencing the same kind of pain.
"There are parts of our community that are sick. And we have got to figure out how to heal them," she said.
The police department will conduct a death investigation, that includes an autopsy, since the child who died is a minor.
It will be up to family members or school officials to formally identify him and the staff at Ch. 3 is respecting their privacy today.
We know there are still a lot of questions about what led up to this child's death.
We hope to be able to answer those soon.