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Published December 03 2010

Task force to discuss depression

Community leaders in Cooperstown, N.D., have created a task force and scheduled a public meeting to address depression and suicide following the self-inflicted death of a 16-year-old girl on Nov. 4.

Meanwhile, Griggs County Sheriff Robert Hook said the investigation into whether bullying played a role in Cassidy Andel’s suicide is “pretty much closed.”

“There’s not going to be any prosecution on this,” he said Thursday.

A group of 19 community leaders gathered Wednesday night at Griggs County Central High School in Cooperstown for the task force’s initial meeting, said Superintendent Wade Faul.

Their goal is to educate the community on depression and suicide, starting with a public meeting slated for 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at the high school, he said.

Speakers and a moderator are being lined up for the meeting, which was requested by Andel’s family, Faul said.

The idea for the task force came from discussions with other superintendents and area counselors about how to respond to such events to get the public involved, he said.

“Because this is not a school issue, it’s a community issue,” he said.

Task force members include Hook, Cooperstown Mayor Carl Sad, PTA leadership, social service agency representatives, a state lawmaker, an economic development official, school administrators and counselors, Faul said.

He said he hopes it will aid the ongoing healing process.

“This goes on for years because it’s a community issue, and we need to keep our community informed of the signs and symptoms and things dealing with depression,” he said.

At the high school, Andel’s death is brought up every day, Faul said.

“We talk about it. Our counselors are active all day long,” he said. “Sure, it’s being talked about. Kids have concerns.”

Hook said the case into Andel’s death is closed as far as his office is concerned.

“The family, they didn’t want to pursue anything with it because there was way more to this than bullying,” he said.

Police reports have been forwarded to the Griggs County State’s Attorney’s Office, but Hook said he doesn’t expect any charges to be filed.

Assistant State’s Attorney Marina Spahr has received the police reports but won’t comment about the case until she’s reviewed them, her secretary said Thursday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528