THE COLONY, Texas – A 9-year-old boy was found hanged in the bathroom of a Dallas-area elementary school in an apparent suicide, police said Friday.
Authorities in The Colony say the fourth-grader was found by staff at Stewart's Creek Elementary School on Thursday afternoon. Lt. Darren Brockway said that the boy "had reportedly hung himself in a bathroom" and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Autopsy results are pending.
Police in The Colony, a middle-class lakeside town about 20 miles north of Dallas, are investigating the circumstances of Montana Lance's death but don't expect any criminal charges. The school district confirmed the basics of the incident but declined to comment further because of privacy concerns.
At the small brick house where the boy lived, a couple was sitting solemnly in an open garage Friday.
"No, no, it's too early," the man said, declining to discuss the boy's death.
A team of grief counselors met people at the school Friday. They will be available to students, parents, teachers and staff through next week, said Lewisville Independent School District spokeswoman Karen Permetti.
Later in the day, the campus looked fairly normal except for a small makeshift memorial underneath the school reader board that announced the cancellation of the Thursday night PTA meeting. A large brown bear with a striped nightcap sat next to two smaller bears and a plastic red firefighter's cap with a hand-printed note on it: "You are our superhero," the note read, "We love and miss you dearly."
Neighbors were stunned by the news.
"It's terrible," said Roy Adams, sitting on the front porch of his daughter's house across the street from the school. "People just don't believe it, a young kid like that. ... He's not having any problems now. He's in God's hands."
Some parents were concerned that they did not learn about the incident from the school, but Permetti said the facts were sketchy until about the time school let out Thursday. The school is sending a letter home with students Friday, Permetti said.
"We do want to stress to our parents to encourage their children to discuss their feelings because children all process their grief differently," Permetti said.
Suicides among young children are rare. There were 33 suicides among children ages 5-9 in the U.S. between 1999 and 2006, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Early last year in suburban Chicago, a 10-year-old boy hanged himself on a restroom coat hook. In 2008, a 7-year-old boy in Austin died after being hanged by his shirt from a coat hook in a dressing room, though authorities said he might have been playing a game in which students jumped from bench to bench while trying to touch the room's ceiling.