12-Year-Old New Bedford Boy Commits Suicide After Being Suspended

By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV

NEW BEDFORD (CBS) – The Bristol County District Attorney says the death of a 12-year-old New Bedford boy is suicide by hanging. Now the family of Clifford Rodrigues and the school community is trying understand why it happened.

“It’s an unfathomable tragedy,” said District Attorney Samuel Sutter. Police received a 911 call at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday for a life-threatening emergency at 98 South 2nd Street.

Emergency crews found the 12-year-old unconscious in an upstairs bedroom. His family says he had been watching television with them, and disappeared upstairs.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports

“The mother didn’t hear any music or the door shut, anything. She went upstairs to call him and he didn’t answer,” said family friend Helen daCruz.

Earlier in the day the boy was involved in a scuffle with a couple of students. The family says punches were thrown and Rodrigues was suspended. School Superintendent Mary Louise Francis says the boy had some behavioral issues and was receiving services, though she wouldn’t elaborate.

“We certainly have been providing support services to the youngster at the school. We’ve been very vigilant in providing what he needed,” she said.

School officials say they moved quickly to support students, especially since another middle schooler, 11-year-old Elijah Lopes, took his life last year, and a high school student, 17-year-old Andrew McCann, who was killed in a car crash, was just buried.

District Attorney Sutter says he does not believe this to be a case of bullying, but he says the investigation into the death has only begun.

“We have plans in place right now. I’m sure we’re going to take a look and see if something more can be done,” he said.

  • Niles McGee

    This should never have happened. Schools across the country have been getting payed $$$ to push SSRI’s (prozac) on children for over 2 decades now with tragic results. The film Generation Rx should by seen by all parents currently being pressured to poison their children.

    • Niles McGee

      If you read my comment you’ll see that I wrote “The film Generation Rx should by seen by all parents currently BEING PRESSURED to poison their children.” Parents would never KNOWINGLY poison their children. I understand your anger and I know you love your son. I’m just asking you to keep an open mind and channel that anger in an important direction.

      I promise you that the evidence laid out in the documentary will, at the very least, make you think twice about giving Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors to any of your children.

      The drug companies make billion$$$ (with a ‘b’) per year in the United States alone off these pills. The FDA is a revolving door agency of bureaucrats and insiders from the pharmaceutical industry.

      It’s a fact that ADD/ADHD is a subjective (not based on fact) psychiatric diagnosis. Whether the diagnosis is made by a school teacher, a school nurse, a pediatrician or a psychiatrist is neither here nor there. The important thing to keep in mind is that ADD/ADHD is an opinion and not a disease. Behavior that was deemed normal when you and I were kids is now the reason kids are initially placed on these (Schedule II Controlled Substances) medications. Once a child has a psychotic reaction (a very well-known side affect) to the medication, that’s it. The dose is increased. New anti-psychotics are prescribed…then there’s no turning back.

      from the story; “School Superintendent Mary Louise Francis says the boy had some behavioral issues and was receiving services, though she wouldn’t elaborate.”

      behavioral issues = just being a kid
      receiving services = on medication
      she wouldn’t elaborate = she’s avoiding a lawsuit

    • Tom Bargeron

      Yes, God bless you. I have a grandson who needs therapy and medication but isn’t getting it because his parents are in denial and afraid that he will become a robot with medication. Those people who promote diet as a cure-all for ADHD and even deny that it exists are doing harm to the millions of kids who desperately need help.
      Thank you for your comment.

      • JaysMom

        @Tom: ADHD is REAL. Diet won’t cure it, spankings won’t cure it, sprinkling holy water on the kid won’t cure it (I’ve tried all lol). My now 10-year old son has had problems with hyperactivity, impulsiveness and disorganization in school (and at home) since he started school He’s been taking Ritalin for a little over a year (7mgs 3x daily) and the change in him has been dramatic. He went from failing grades to As and Bs. He can complete assignments and exams in the alloted time. He got the 2nd highest score in the 5th grade on the benchmark reading exam. Instead of being constantly brerated by the teacher he is now referred to as “a genius” and assists the teacher with the computers. He is not perfect; he still sometimes forgets to return completed homework assignments and his desk (and room) is an all-out mess, but he has come a very long way. I urge you to keep at your grandson’s parents; show them research and literature on ADHD and testimonials from parents like me, do whatever you can to convince them that their son’s quality of life could be worlds better with the proper treatment, and God bless!

      • Niles McGee

        nobody is perfect. your son might be the next ‘Einstein’. really.

        you say, “He is not perfect; he still sometimes forgets to return completed homework assignments and his desk (and room) is an all-out mess,…”

        that’s good. think about it. utube Generation RX and do your ‘homework’.

      • http://ny9solyndra.wordpress.com NY9Solyndra

        “Those people who promote diet as a cure-all for ADHD and even deny that it exists are doing harm to the millions of kids who desperately need help.”

        And they’re harming the kids and families that come in contact with their untreated children…

      • Niles McGee

        to whom it may concern,

        God help you.

        also, the internet is still free. so please use it while it’s here.

        again, ADHD is an opinion, not a disease.

    • Bill

      YOU are out of your mind if you believe that schools are getting payed by Big Pharma.

      • http://ny9solyndra.wordpress.com NY9Solyndra

        mvera: The article to which you link does not say that Big Pharma paid schools to push drugs.

      • Bukkiah Golden

        Payments or not, Massachusetts has been pushing narcotics on kids for some time.

        I found out in my adult life that the school attempted to convince my parents to give me ADHD medications back in the 80’s, my parents refused, thankfully.

        I also in High School in Mass knew lots of kids that were proscribe ADHD drugs. Many were selling them to other students as narcotics.

      • mvera
      • http://ny9solyndra.wordpress.com NY9Solyndra

        paid not payed

    • Unbelievable

      You know you’re right… They tried to push drugs on my son because he was a normal active boy.. but I refused to allow it. Teachers now a days would rather drug normal kids up so they sit there like zombies instead of dealing with normal everyday active kids.

      • GM

        Especially the boys. Boys have great difficulty sitting for hours on end and learn differently than girls do. Solution… Just drug ’em! Then they will be nice and compliant and just sit there without emotion or normal movement. It’s sick that that is the “solution” they run to.

      • JaysMom

        My son was suspendedfrom school for one day last year for standing up to someone who was bullying him, but the instigator was suspended also. The boy and his mother came to my home later that day, she and I spoke, we spoke to our sons and firmly reminded them that they needed to not say mean things to one another, to keep their hands to themselves, and although not best friends, they play together with no confrontations. Both of our boys have ADHD, I recognize that my son’s more active and impulsive than the average 10-year old, he is being medically treated for it, and although he’s nowhere near perfect, he’s doing so much better in school than he had in the past (all As & Bs and no more weekly trips to the principals office). The other boy is not, he was left back last year and is constantly in trouble due to his behavior. Before agreeing to medicate my son, I was afraid that he’d become a zombie, but he hasn’t. His medication allows him to sit still long enough to focus in class and do the work he’s capable of doing, allows him better control over his impulsiveness, and he’s so much happier overall because he’s able to live up to his potential. All I can say to those of you who think ADHD was invented by the big pharma to get richer doping kids up is that you need to educate yourselves. Better yet, have a conversation with the parent of a child with ADHD whose life was changed through the proper diagnosis and treatment.

      • petem

        @JaysMom, Great post! The trolls posting crap on here about big pharma or how all active kids are being drugged by the schools have spent way too much time out of the sunlight. Turn off the Alex Jones, tune into the world around you! I have two sons, bith have mental health dx’s and both of whom have been transformed by the CORRECT medication. It took us years for my older son, but he has graduated HS, and is now in a community college. My younger son still struggles, but nothing like before!
        If you don’t have PERSONAL knowledge and experience with this, you don’t deserve to offer your uneducated opinions. They help no one and can hurt people.

      • Tufts STudent

        Jays mom, I seriously question your insight on this matter. I am currently a Junior at Tufts university. I have been diagnosed with “ADHD” at the age of 16 when attending a private high school much more difficult in academic workload/prestige then Tufts. I was prescribed and have taken ADHD medication in the past for two-three years. I stopped recently and although I find it harder to concentrate on work, I also realize that ADHD medication is a drug. My friends who go to college who have no such problem such as “ADHD” and can focus for hours on end while looking at books which have 0 interest to them buy these drug to help them with studies. These types of drugs are speed. AKA gives the user and in this case a 10 year old child a side effect of euphoria, making it easy to sit still as the child is High. Again I have been diagnosed with this ADHD and am now 23, and old enough to make my own decisions regarding medications. I feel that to give this drug and yes I emphasize DRUG (as my friends truly believe it is more powerful then alcohol tobacco and Marijuana) is horrible. I understand that you may not know any difference, but giving your child this drug is just a way to prevent your child from learning to naturally cope with being antsy and high strung. If you look at society, those most successful usually suffer from being over anxious. I beg you to do research about ADHD drugs online before just giving them to your child because they are given to you by a doctor.

      • Deskboy

        You, I believe.

      • USArmyCombatMedic

        And parents would rather leaving the parenting to teachers, as opposed to instilling values like respect, integrity, and honor at home.

        I agree with you, to a point..

      • binny

        I agree with you jaysmom. Medication doesn’t have to mean zombie. It’s all about finding the right medicine and the right dose, not just tossing the first med suggested at the problem and forgetting about it.

      • JR

        This is to Jays mom. I feel sorry for your son. What I see is that boys and girls are different and because we have a one size fits all education system lets just drug the boys and make them comply. Wrong answer. Boys are more active period and to actually think its ok to give a 10 yr old a narcotic is just crazy! Hey Jays mom how would you feel about your little boy smoking a cigarette? How bout a beer? So how is a narcotic alright for them to take? Maybe your son should try out for sports or just get him out from behind the computer screen or tv. Btw I have 2 daughters and my brother has 2 daughters and a son. So let me tell you my nephew is far and away different in how he acts as opposed to all our girls. But its a good thing we as a society need to see that boys are different and its a positive difference that needs to be dealt with differently than how we treat little girls instead of drugging them with narcotics so we can feminize them.


        The guy above who referred to ADD drugs as “narcotics” got it wrong. Those are stimulant drugs. leave narcotics out of this. Chronic pain patients like me have enough problems with people abusing the medications we need to have any quality of life.

    • WHAT

      sounds like you have some anger issuses. I think you should take the loving out of your name.

    • Randy Botelho

      I’m sure this kid was being bullied and stood up for himself and got suspended for it and figured he cant do anything right such a sad story but all too common in this world today

      • Fred in Boise

        Amen. Crap like like was going on when I was in school in late 1950’s and 1960’s. teachers even then were being drilled not to seek out “who was right or wrong” as they took time and was judgmental. Bullies get rewarded and the victim who is not experienced enough to hide his actions is the one who gets punished.

        A variation was “punish them all equally so next time the victim wont fight back and cause me to pay attention.”

      • scarlet

        my school, they only punished the bullied who stood up for themselves, they allowed the bullies to get away with what they did, they were favoured for some reason. The principal and teachers involved with this suspension should be fired and their names need to be raked through the mud.

      • Richard

        Speculation. Wait for the facts.

      • John Hebert

        The group that bullied him the most was the school administration. They claim to have been providing for what he needed, but when he needed them the most they cut him loose.

      • http://ny9solyndra.wordpress.com NY9Solyndra

        “I’m sure this kid was being bullied and stood up for himself and got suspended for it ”

        Uh did you ever consider that HE might have been the bully?

      • Mary

        How do you know he was being bullied? Maybe HE WAS the bully and got caught bullying the other kid. Maybe he was using other drugs, maybe he had mental health issues not disclosed in this article. How does anyone jump to the conclusion that the school pushed SSRI’s on him and others and that he was the victim of bullying based on this article?

      • Military man


      • debra

        well my son has aspergers and I have beeen fighting the school dept since he was 6 .he is 15 now. . he has been bullied since then. In keith middle school . he was forced.n to nwatch the movie the lovely bones . which sence him to nhospital. the school frist tried saying he only saw 5 mins of the movie. clearly he saw all of it. their answer to all the bullying, including putting his head in a toilet< was to put him in westside high now call trinity. like he could handle those type of kids . for my son<s punishment he was put in a closet,n without ever telling me, the list goes on. I,m still fighting the school dept to no avail. My heart goes out to the family. so sade

    • qoemarie

      Schools get paid $$$ so kids get SSRIs??? ( The patent for Prozac is long gone. Generics are cheaper than Flintstone vitamins.) Then why do I have to buy expo markers and paper for my classes? I think you should begin to think. Your comment is absurd.

      • Niles McGee

        cuz you need to attend one of the 2nd grade math classes at your ‘school’.

        seriously, i’m not trying to be confrontational. i’m trying to get you to think on my level.

    • Minorkle

      Pure speculation. Wait for the facts.

    • Chris, Kentucky

      FYI if you refuse to let the school medicate your child they will be taken away from you. The PRIMARY reason why I tend to vote republican is that they at least pretend they want to abolish the Department of Education; I’m particularly excited that Ron Paul actually means it too. They say that everyone around the world used to love Americans. In truth Americans are still pratically loved by all, it is our government they hate ~

    • prutt

      If you look at a website called SSRI stories you will find almost every school shooter in history were on these drugs. No surprise if you read the insert
      it clearly says as a side effect(the effect) is suicidal thoughts. Then they teach kids how not to commit suicide giving them knoweldge of how to do it. very sick and disturbing system in place…by design of course! Great documentary you listed
      everyone should watch it. Sadly most people (including not so LovingMomof3are) in denial and you cant get through to them.

      • Mary

        Side effects of SSRI’s or were they not taken correctly, on the right dose, or even being taken at all etc. All you ever hear is that they were “on them”. Everyone wants to blame someone else (pharmaceutical companies, schools, bulllies, etc.) when does the fault start to lie with the criminal, attacker, sociopath, whatever he/she SHOULD be called?

    • John S

      It is true that every single one of the students who committed mass-murder, such as in the Columbine massacre, were either on psychotropic drugs or was withdrawing from them. While big pharma may not be paying schools to get their students on these dangerous meds, they’re more than responsible for the results of lazy teachers and administrators who turn to pharmacology instead of dealing with the causes of their students’ misbehavior in their classes.

      • John S.

        The root cause of all the behavioral problems facing schools these days, in my considered opinion, has to do with the amount of sugar being given to our children from the moment they’re born. Frugose is a manufactured sugar product developed in the 70s by the Japanese to reduce the amount of fat in our daily diets. Frugose is the root cause, in many professionals’ opinions, for the unbelievable amount of behavioral problems today, and not just with children.

        Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, in the Division of Endocrinology at UC San Francisco, explores how and why to reduce sugar consumption. Series: “UCSF Center for Obesity, Assessment, Study and Treatment” [7/2011] [Health and Medicine] [Professional Medical Education] In his video, which I implore every parent to watch, Dr. Lustig makes a powerful argument for eliminating sugur from our childrens diets. Here is the link to Dr. Lustig’s video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OaD_ACer_g

      • JC

        Here’s a crazy theory: maybe they were all on psychotropic drugs because they all had mental problems.

    • What the....?

      Where does it say he was on antidepressants?

    • fdebros

      and down further true too that shooters in schools are invariably on ssri’s.
      but the dirtiest of all truths is that nobody wants to know what Adderal, after Ritalin the second most used drug in ADHD, really is: METH! speak of poisoning our children!
      true too in this case: we dont and probably wont ever know (HIPAA) what this kid was drugged up with. probably something.

  • gramps

    Boy’s fight, it was & is part of growing up.

    I got into fights @ school, lost more than I won & on top of that somehow survived the ‘WRATH’ of…….’Sister Mary Holy Water’!

    What kind of ‘video games’ did the kid have access to?

    It’s today’s culture….


    Look @ our TV shows, movies, parents @ ‘Little League’ games…..Parents ‘MURDERING’ each other @ kids hockey games.


    • debaser

      Video Games? What next, those darn horseless buggies? Take a look around the world and try to explain how video games create the carnage there: Somali Pirates and gangs did not grow up playing PS3 games. Drop the scapegoating and apply some logic to your argument.

      • gramps

        Your post defies logic…

        Unless you own ‘ERTS’ stock?


      • Kevin

        “liberalism and its policies” for 500, Alex.

    • Mikey A

      Too many @’s to understand…

      • Kevin

        The, get some of that ADHD medicine so you can focus….

    • USArmyCombatMedic

      “They say music can alter moods and talk to you
      Well can it load a gun up for you , and cock it too?” ~ Eminem

      • SpEd Teacher

        Thank you, USArmyCombatMedic. I agree with your posts. Those of you not in the school system, please refrain from commenting on that which you do not know. You don’t have a clue what teachers go through on a daily basis. Now excuse me while I go pick up my giant kick-back from Novartis.

    • Tsalnew

      Don’t agree with religion but do agree with all of the other influences

  • diane jones

    This is so sad…i just dont see it being a suicide…i dnt know the kid but m quite sure he didnt plan his death…he was a kid with a furture ahead of him…we just have to see what really happened…

  • anon

    The Superintendent’s name is Mary Louise Francis. This boy may have had some issues but he was always smiling and happy when I saw him. No matter what happened something drove him to do this, maybe it was an accident where he got so mad he squeezed something around his neck, maybe it was that stupid choking game kids play. We don’t know what happened and how he was treated by his family when he was suspended. RIP CJ!

    • phil

      ….in far too many instances…there IS ANOTHER cause. Police Officers have seen this forever. It’s not talked about. It’s not pretty, but…we are talking about a young boy experiencing puberty. Auto-erotica is the term, and parents of young boys need to open their eyes and discuss this with their kids.
      Many times in the past, Police detectives never told the parents the circumstances of the true cause of death of a young man found hanged. Same with older men in their 60’s…heart attack occurred while watching pornography. The Police felt that there was no need to inflict further grief on the family by explaining the details. I agree.

  • Quintin ToCool Ramos

    Cousin i miss you

  • Tsalnew

    Tragedy is far too prevalent My heart goes out to his family.

  • web

    Fighting doesn’t result in suicide. Feeling like you have no way out, no future, life stinks and you’d rather not be in it anymore, no one cares or notices your pain, you are either lonely or hurt and don’t see any way out of it. It’s a desperate act (not always thought out to see the finality of your actions) made by desperate people. It’s really family and those closest to you that can show you the positive in life and not the negative. I’m sorry a 12 year old boy didn’t see any other options in his life.

    • dragon

      stated perfectly… I have a hard time believing that a 12 year old boy “wanted” to die. The feeling of having no one to talk to, no one to listen, no one who cares….and not thinking of the finality of it, really isnt his fault. How does a 12yr old come to the point where he feels like he has no one?

      • James

        I came close to feeling like that when I was 12, but fortunately I had a loving family who made me feel better by telling me that I shouldn’t worry about what people at school think. I can remember crying and telling my parents I hated myself. They didn’t get me professional counseling or anything; they didn’t need to. They just told me that the things I were worried about would pass and that they loved me, and it didn’t make my problems go away, but it helped.

        Also, though, my father always told me that if I have to get in a fight at school, the school might suspend me, but I wouldn’t be in any trouble at home if I was only defending myself. He told me I should never start a fight, but if someone starts one with me, I should always try to win.

        I think the above is important advice for boys in particular, who may be picked on physically by other boys and have no recourse other than to fight–and parents too often will tell their kids the exact opposite–don’t fight, no matter what! And if you do and get suspended from school, you’re in big trouble. Sometimes kids have no choice but to fight back and their parents should support them even when the school wants to treat them just like the bully who started the fight.

    • Rhodymom

      Fighting was not the cause, fighting was a side effect. You are likely right about how he felt. There was something at the root of this that we will probably never know. Fighting should be considered a cry for help.

    • Futon Torpedo

      Natural Selection at work here. No more no less. Ever life can’t be garaunteed survival.

  • Jean

    I don’t know if this is Keith Middle School student or not, but I have family that has been bullied severely and the school does nothing. Some kids even encourage kids to kill themselves. The authorities need to look into the lack of intervention at this school

    • Roger

      Precisely why my two boys (10 & 12) have been taking a lethal form of Martial Arts for the past 3 years. My kids mind their own business, but most kids know they are well versed in defensive fighting techniques and no one messes with them ever. They have also learned anger control ,and the ability to walk away from a bad situation/fight if necessary. If someone forces them to fight…they’re more than capable.

  • connie

    I really think more things happen with this situation only because the boy got suspended he had to face discipline from his parents…the parents say he was watching t.v…its hard to say know days with children our children know days act like adults at ages this baby took his life….i agree on what really to place at school he may have been threatned no one knows…would like to know what really happen for this baby boy to take his life knowing his family was downstairs….praying for his family…

  • njuguna muigai

    When a teacher is anything unusual behaviour with a student he should call the parent and discuss before taking action. These behaviors include becoming unruly fighting notorius etc. etc. Teachers should understand various behaviors students at various stages

    • http://ny9solyndra.wordpress.com NY9Solyndra

      “When a teacher is anything unusual behaviour with a student he should call the parent and discuss before taking action.”

      That would put most teachers on the phone for four hours per day.

      Kids do all kinds of unusual stuff every day.

  • DoverDavid

    Not to make light on any of this, but I recall a talk show recently where the topic was kids trying to reach the point of suffication in order to get this kind of rush. One of the parents on the show had a daughter who was in her closet, trying to attempt this with a belt around her neck and wound up sufficating herself to death.

  • petem

    So sad…my thoughts are with his family…

  • praying

    I can only imagine what this poor boy was going through. I am a grown man who was born and raised in New Bedford and know the struggle that exists there. It is not cool to be smart, respectful and thoughtful. I didnt know CJ but I cried like a baby for him last night. I was that boy who was picked on and I can remember often trying to plan a way to escape the cruelty. I got into a bunch of trouble after high school due to the people I was around. I moved down South (GA) in 2005 and havent looked back. I just wish there was a way we could come together and save these kids.

  • dragon

    Thank the New Bedford school systems, they are a joke. Not to mention, in the article when they are quoted, instead of being sympathetic, all they did is pass blame and try to cover themselves. Sorry to say, this isnt the first time and unless something is done it wont be the last. I live in the same area of New Bedford, and life for young kids is tough. Parents arent involved in their childrens lives like they should be alot of the time. Teachers arent what they used to be, more worried about their own agenda’s, facebook, and so on. It is such a shame that things like this happen when they could be easily prevented. Sending a prayer out to CJ and his family, bless you.

  • David Bennett

    This was the second suicide at this school? The SECOND middle school suicide? What is going on there? While these deaths are tragic parents need to go down there and start asking some serious questions. If they have the time (most people do not) tell the “sister” that you are going to start dropping by to observe.

    These are YOUR kids people. Not the school system’s and it looks to me like these kids might be in serious danger.

  • NanNJ

    I was talking about this the other day with my kids. Althought not from a real religious family I still knew suicide is a mortal sin. This needs to be taught to our kids again, A mortal sin. Tell your children…maybe less will be inclined to kill themselves. My heart goes out to this family.

    • http://ny9solyndra.wordpress.com NY9Solyndra

      Telling someone that suicide is a mortal sin will have no effect on the outcome – it may in fact make them feel more helpless and more likely to commit suicide.

  • JAG

    I’ve never heard of suicide in middle school before. Not to mention two of them at the same school. Something’s wrong here. My sympathy for the family.

  • John

    The role of schools is to teach a curriculum.

  • sean patriot

    I guess Darwin was right

    • Jack

      Darwin was a moron and a pedophile.

  • no

    He was probably being punished for defending himself against bullies. When I was in school, bullies got away with everything, but the moment you fought back YOU were sent to detention or suspended. It can leave you hopeless when nobody helps and they punish you for helping yourself.

  • par in FL

    there is no one or no entity to BLAME here!

    this young boy sadly committed suicide by his own choice … end of story.

  • Jaambo

    The public school system tried to push my child on medication. They wouldn’t come out and say it, but they made every wink and nod to tell me to get him on meds. I brought him to my pediatrician who said “no way”. After over a year of dealing with them increasingly nag me about it, and his grades going down I moved him to a private school. His grades went up and no need for meds! Hmmmm…..

    Shame on these people and their lack of caring!

  • dbdreamers

    Superintendent Mary Louise Francis said, “We certainly have been providing support services to the youngster at the school. We’ve been very vigilant in providing what he needed,”
    The boy obviously needed something OTTHER than what was being provided.

  • jim9988

    I know this is all in caps but I want the school to take responsibility.

  • Carrie

    The public school system is terribly broken, despite billions being dumped into it each year. It’s not a safe place for learning or spending time. I feel sorry for any kid who has to endure it.

    This is a terrible tragedy.

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