Student who died by suicide left out of middle school yearbook

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Suicide Victim Left Out of Middle School Yearbook

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A seventh-grader who took his own life was left out of his middle school yearbook, and his family is heartbroken.

Kaiden Kauffman, 12, who died in September, suffered from mental illness, his family stated in his obituary.

When Kauffman’s family received the spring yearbook, family members realized his school picture wasn’t there and the yearbook didn’t mention him at all.

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The boy's grandmother, Dawn Kauffman-Mace, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the school failed the family.

“We are really angry,” said Kauffman-Mace. “It’s hurtful. We would have hoped there would have been a photo. His friends could have written notes. That would have been a lovely keepsake. Not to even mention his name is unacceptable.”

In a Facebook post, Kaiden Kauffman’s aunt, Sarah Erickson, said that erasing him from the yearbook is like “erasing his existence.”

The seventh-grader was enrolled in the school district since preschool, a school spokesperson told CNN. The official said that leaving Kauffmen out of the yearbook was "sincerely unintentional," and it happened because anytime a student dies, they are removed from the class list.

"We deeply value every single student in our schools. This was no different with Kaiden," Shawna Carpentier, communications coordinator for the Cambridge-Isanti School District told CNN. "This is not a light issue we have looked past. This was a very tragic situation we feel badly about. We made an unfortunate mistake."

Family members told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the district told the family it would remember Kaiden Kauffmen in next year’s yearbook, but the family said it is too late.

“He died in 2017, not the 2018-19 school year,” said Kauffman-Mace. “You can’t go back. He deserved to be recognized.”

Family members told CNN this was a missed opportunity to talk to fellow students about suicide.

"Suicide is something nobody wants to talk about," Erickson said. "You can't just erase a kid and expect to prevent future suicides. Nothing changes unless it is talked about. The school failed."

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