Police Confirm 10-Year-Old Boy Was Bullied Before 'Traumatic' Suicide: 'We Have a Problem'

Investigators confirmed “there was some bullying taking place” in Sammy Teusch’s life, both in and out of school, before the boy died on May 5

<p>Courtesy of Sam Teusch</p> 10-year-old Sammy who died by suicide on May 5

Courtesy of Sam Teusch

10-year-old Sammy who died by suicide on May 5

Police in Greenfield, Ind., have confirmed a 10-year-old boy was bullied by his peers before he died by suicide earlier this month.

Sammy Teusch died on Sunday, May 5, after his brother found him unresponsive in his bedroom that morning, his family previously told PEOPLE.

An investigation confirmed “there was some bullying taking place” in Sammy’s life, both in and out of school, before the child’s “traumatic” death, according to a news release issued by Greenfield Police Chief Brian Hartman on Friday, May 31.

Per the investigation, the Hancock County coroner ruled Sammy died from “asphyxiation by strangulation,” Hartman said. He added that "there will be no criminal charges filed with the Hancock County Prosecutor."

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The police chief also suggested there has been “a lot of blame and finger pointing” going on in the community following Sammy’s death

“We as a community need to understand we have a problem, no matter the reason for this tragic and untimely death,” Hartman explained. “We have children who feel their lives are so bad that it is not worth living. We need to come together and give these children a life worth living. "

In an interview with PEOPLE later on Friday, however, Sam Teusch, Sammy's father, rebuked the latest police statement — particularly what he called a suggestion that Sammy experienced bullying in his own family.

"They just spun a horrible, terrible situation," Teusch says.

"At the end of this day, our son is going to be gone," he says. "Sunday, it's going to be one month that he is gone [and] here isn't 20 seconds in my life that I don't expect him to run around the corner."

Teusch went on to say, "This had nothing to do with his home life. That's why he didn't want to go to school. Do you think he would have wanted to stay home if there was bad stuff going on here? No, he wanted to stay home because this was his safe place."

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Sammy and his family move to Greenfield from Pensacola, Fla. in 2022, his father previously told PEOPLE. It was not long before the bullying began, Teusch has said.

In response to the bullying, Sammy would hide under desks and in locked bathrooms, according to his father. Sammy even pointed out one of his bullies to his father while at a soccer game the day before he died.

“It is a sad and devastating time in our society” when children die by suicide, Hartman previously told PEOPLE. “I know there's a lot of blame going around,” he added.

Related: South Carolina Pastor’s Wife Died by Suicide, Medical Examiner Says

The police chief made similar comments in Friday's news release. "Any time there is a tragic event, we, as a society, want to place blame on someone or something to help take away the pain we are experiencing and get some understanding," Hartman said.

Anyone who might be afraid to report bullying at school can contact a GPD School Resource Officer for documentation, Hartman said. The SRO will then follow up with the school, he added.

In the meantime, Sammy’s father is asking people to sign a petition urging Congress to take up legislation to curb bullying nationwide. “I love him," Teusch told PEOPLE. "He’s forever going to be 10."

In his interview on Friday, Teusch said there was a long road ahead — for him, his wife and their other kids.

"How do we start healing?" he says, adding, "We've still got an 11-year-old and two 13-year-olds that have to live a happy life somehow. I don't even know how to do that."

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.

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