FLUSHING TOWNSHIP, Michigan — Hours after it was announced to students at Flushing High School that Jarrod Nickell had killed himself Wednesday, Jarrod’s parents started receiving Facebook messages that their son was being bullied.
His stepmother Michele Nickell said Jarrod had complained of being bullied earlier in the school year but said she thought it had stopped.
“We had no idea this was going on,” Michele Nickell said. “He was always happy, he was laughing.”
Jarrod’s father, James, said he found his son dead Wednesday morning near a wooded area behind their house on West Mt. Morris Road.
James and Michele Nickell said that the note that Jarrod left behind said that people were causing him pain, although he didn’t specifically name anyone.
In the note, Jarrod also apologized for whoever it was that found his body and took responsibility of taking his life on his own, said the Nickells.
A police investigation determined that Jarrod, 18, died of self-inflicted injuries.
Flushing Township Police Chief Dale Stevenson said a police investigation did not indicate that
bullying was a factor in the suicide.
Stevenson said Jarrod’s family has told police that he was bullied, but said that there isn’t anything that supports their claim.
“If there’s something that arises that we need to follow up on, we will,” Stevenson said.
Michele Nickell said Jarrod joined the high school football team in August after moving here from Maryland, but was declared ineligible because of his grades.
Although he couldn’t play, he worked on the sidelines and wore his football jersey to school, Michele Nickell said.
Michele Nickell said a small group of football players started giving him a hard time in the fall for wearing the jersey, calling him names and even sending him a death threat.
Nickell said she stepped in, bringing it to the administration’s attention and said a meeting with all the boys was set at the school.
She said she assumed it had stopped and that Jarrod never mentioned it again after that.
Flushing Superintendent Tim Stein declined comment when asked about the specifics of Michele Nickell’s claims.
“We have always had open lines of communication with the mother,” Stein said.
Stein called the death tragic but said there isn’t any evidence that it was caused by bullying.
The Nickells say there is a problem with bullying in the district and other schools and say that the problem should not be ignored.
Check back to Mlive tonight for more updates.