Family Upset School District Forgot to Include Student in Yearbook Months After Suicide

June 15, 2018 01:35 PM

An Isanti family is upset their 12-year-old son was left out of the school yearbook months after dying from suicide.

Family members say Kaiden Kauffman was a seventh-grader at Isanti Middle School when he died from suicide in September.


RELATED: Expert: Mental Health Classes in Schools Could Help Address Nationwide Suicide Epidemic

Now they say their grief has been made worse because because of a mistake on the part of the school district. 

"He was a busy, busy boy," remembers Dawn Kauffman-Mace, Kaiden's grandmother. 

RELATED: Parents Seek Change Following Daughter's Suicide at Milaca School

Family members said mental illness led Kaiden to take his own life.

"It was nothing I ever thought would happen," Kauffman-Mace said. "I still can't believe he's gone."

Resources for Those in Need

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255

List of Resources from National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota

Veterans Crisis Line - 1-800-273-8255, Press 1

Last week, Dawn Kauffman-Mace was anxious to look at the school yearbook. But family members noticed something was missing.

"It would have just been nice to have the kids write something in it," Kauffman-Mace said. "I called my friend, and I said 'Hey Jamie, do you see a picture of Kaiden in the yearbook?'

"And she said no."

The family quickly contacted the principal and Cambridge-Isanti Schools, but they were left with more questions.

"He stated it was an oversight," Kauffman-Mace said. "I felt as if Kaiden's existence was erased and Kaiden mattered."

RELATED: State's Suicide Crisis Hotline Prepares to Shut Down

Cambridge-Isanti Schools apologized, saying it was a very unfortunate, unintended mistake. Officials said they are already working with the family to find a solution.

"You can't rectify it, because he died this year," Kauffman-Mace said. 

Kaiden's grandmother argues the district hasn't been receptive to any kind of memorial, and she says it's too late to include his picture in any yearbook. 

"To be able to have that as a treasure to hold on to - that would have been really nice," Kauffman-Mace said. "So I felt robbed." 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota cautioned against any kind of memorial at the school for fear of copycat behavior.

But the group does feel Kaiden's picture should have been in the yearbook. 

Beyond a school picture, his family hopes this is a teaching moment for everyone. 

"What I'm hoping for is that it creates conversations, and if it creates conversations, then maybe it might help stop a suicide," Kauffman-Mace said. 

Anyone who feels in need of help is asked to give the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline a call. The number is 800-273-TALK. 


Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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