11-Year-Old Dies By Suicide During Virtual Zoom Class

by Julie Scagell

His sister rushed to his room after hearing the gunshot

A California sixth grader died Wednesday after shooting himself while he was on a distance learning Zoom call with his class, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office said.

The boy attended Woodbridge Elementary School, which is part of Lodi Unified School District. That district has been using the distance learning model since it began the school year on Aug. 3. According to Sandra Mendez, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, the boy was on the Zoom but had his audio and video turned off. The victim’s sister was in another room, also in a distance learning class, when she heard the gunshot. She had her audio and video on. She rushed to her brother’s room and found him, alerted her teacher to what happened, and ran to the neighbors who called 911.

The boy was rushed to a nearby hospital; but according to the sheriff’s office’s Facebook post on Wednesday, the boy had died. Mendez said the gun was registered to an adult who lived with the boy.

“We are deeply saddened to report that based on the preliminary findings, an 11-year-old student from Woodbridge Elementary School has passed away due to injuries from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the post said in part. “This investigation is still ongoing. Our thoughts are with the family and all those affected by this tragic event.”

According to ABC10, the family said it was an accident, but a San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said the preliminary findings indicate the shooting was intentional.

There have been increasingly alarming reports finding the toll the pandemic is having on everyone’s mental health — especially kids. The isolation, loneliness, and frustration many of us feel being separated from friends and family and our “normal” routine feels impossible some days, especially as the pandemic drags on.

ParentsTogether, a national organization of more than 2 million parents in the United States, recently surveyed 500 parents and their kids. Seventy percent of kids surveyed said they feel more sad, worried, or overwhelmed than before the pandemic began. To make matters worse, “in families making under $50,000 a year, kids were twice as likely to say they felt sad, angry, scared or lonely ‘a lot’ in the past week compared to kids living in households making more than $100,000 per year.”

Another study, published by the CDC, showed the proportion of emergency room visits related to children’s mental health increased from March to October this year. The study showed mental health-related emergency room visits increased 31 percent for kids between the ages of 12 and 17 compared to the same period in 2019. For children between the ages of five and 11, a 24 percent increase.

The Lodi school district is offering a school counselor to be available to talk with students during virtual learnings moving forward.

If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of sadness, anger, or anxiety, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline anytime, 24/7, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).