YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Suicide Essay Alerts Teacher but Too Late

March 20, 1986|United Press International

CHESTER, Ill. — Scott Phillips worked hard on his last essay, writing and rewriting the four parts of it until he had it the way he wanted it.

He turned it in Monday, but it wasn't until Monday night that his teacher read it. It described how an 11-year-old boy like Scott killed himself by suffocation with a plastic bag over his head.

Disturbed, the teacher immediately called the principal of Chester Community Grade School and they agreed to seek counseling for Scott in the morning.

But while they were talking, paramedics were trying in vain to revive Scott, found in his room with a plastic bag pulled over his head. His mother found his body at 9:24 p.m.

Randolph County Coroner Neil V. Birchler said the suicide in the essay "was identical to the manner he used."

"He didn't speak in his assignment as if it was him," Birchler said. "He did it as someone else."

Birchler said he could not release the contents of the essay, or a suicide note found by the body, until after an inquest. "We're taking toxicology examinations to see if there were any chemicals in the boy's system."

He said the essay "was written in four parts--each part was about a page. You know how in grammar class the teacher teaches you to outline stuff so it will be in logical order. The essay was done like that, in four parts. The actual suicide was the whole last chapter."

"Who knows where he got the idea?" Birchler said. "He was a very intelligent child."

Los Angeles Times Articles