Candlelight vigil held for Marion teen who took her own life at school

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A 14-year-old took her own life at McCulloch Junior High School in Marion sending shock waves through the community Monday. Authorities said a teacher and several students found Braylee Rice, 14, in the bleacher area, shortly after she walked away from a class.

“If it’s tears, do it. Our goal is to bring healing and comfort to a family and a community that is mourning a loss today,” said a woman who led a candlelight vigil outside the school around 6 p.m.

marionFriends, classmates, parents and strangers clung onto one another as they prayed. Some young kids were in tears.

“She was always quiet, but she was so nice,” said Breanne Jones, a friend of Rice’s.

Their message was painted on vehicles parked at the school. One read, “You will not be forgotten.”

“I’m staying strong because she’s in a better place,” said Taya Bryant, another 14-year-old.

“My daughters don’t know what to do. They said they lost a best friend,” said Brandy Gipson, a McCulloch Junior High School parent.

“Even though I don’t know this little girl, my heart goes out for her,” said Makayla Jackson, who said it is time for the community to come together.

While the investigation into the girl’s death is still in its infancy, the Marion Community Schools Superintendent is already responding to questions about how this could have happened.

“I can say, to my knowledge, there certainly has been no indication at this point that it was a bullying situation,” said Superintendent Steve Edwards.

“I can’t believe she did it. I had just seen her, and now she’s gone. It’s sad. It’s sad,” said Mya Ford, another classmate.

Grief counselors were on school grounds Monday, speaking to students and staff members. They will be made available in the future as needed.

An autopsy will be performed Tuesday.

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