WARNING: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing for readers.
The parents of Nathan Bronstein, the 15-year-old boy who took his own life in January, say the Latin School of Chicago knew of their son's extensive bullying prior to his suicide and that school officials wrote the problems off as "family issues," according to a lawsuit.
On Jan. 13 at about 9:30 p.m., Rob Bronstein, Nathan's father, found his son hanging from the shower head with a cord wrapped around his neck as a noose, the lawsuit said.
Rob Bronstein and his 17-year-old daughter began CPR before Nathan was taken to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
Rob and Rose Bronstein said Nathan was only at the school for a matter of months, but was subjected to both cyber and in-person bullying in that amount of time.
"He was only [at Latin] for the semester, but it was really horrendous from the get-go and what he was exposed to was unimaginable, and now here we are," Rob Bronstein said.
According to the lawsuit, Nathan made a formal report of the bullying at the elite Chicago school, but there was no investigation, nor were his parents notified.
"He carried this - he carried this with him all the way through Jan. 13 and we had no idea," Rose Bronstein said. "And he was carrying all this pain and all the insults and the obscenities from this large group of students and we didn't know until two weeks after he had taken his life."
"If they would have notified us and we would have known about it, I know that he would have still been here today," Rose Bronstein continued.
Though not aware of all specific instances, the mother of three knew of her son's struggles and made contact with Latin employees over 30 times between October and November 2021 asking for help, the lawsuit alleges.
The Latin School of Chicago released the following statement in response:
Our school community deeply grieves the tragic and untimely passing of one its students. It is a loss that impacts our whole community. Our hearts go out to the family, and we wish them healing and peace. With respect to their lawsuit, however, the allegations of wrongdoing by the school officials are inaccurate and misplaced. The school's faculty and staff are compassionate people who put students’ interests first, as they did in this instance. While we are not, at this time, going to comment on any specific allegation in this difficult matter, the school will vigorously defend itself, its faculty and its staff against these unfounded claims.
Both Latin school officials, as well as parents of students involved in the bullying, face several charges, including wrongful death, survival/intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, parental responsibility law and breach of contract.
Should Rob and Rose Bronstein be victorious in their lawsuit, the couple said they would donate the winnings to an anti-cyberbullying organization in hopes that their case could prevent someone else from suffering the same tragedy.
One area woman runs an organization like the ones the Bornsteins are hoping to help. Carol Deely's 12-year-old son Gabe died by suicide in Chicago nearly four years ago, and she started "Gabriel's Light," a youth-suicide prevention organization, in his memory.
"Kids tell other kids these thoughts. They go to peers more than adults," she said. 'Believe your child, and we hope everyone in Chicago takes bullying seriously and mental health seriously and is willing to take a stand."
Gabriel's Light is holding a "Hoops for Hope" fundraiser on Saturday. You can find more information on the group's website.
SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: Here is information on suicide prevention from the National Institute of Mental Health. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741.