Teen Suicides Sweep Bachmann’s District

Brett Flashnick / AP Photo

Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., answers questions from the media after signing the Cut Cap Balance Pledge during a news conference in Columbia, S.C., Monday, July 18, 2011.

An unsettling rash of suicides among teenagers in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Minnesota district, particularly among both gay teens and bullied teens, is troubling residents and state public-health officials, and is leading critics to blame the Republican congresswoman and her antigay allies. "I feel if I hadn't moved to this district my daughter wouldn't have died,” said the mother of a seventh-grade girl who took her own life. Nine teens in the area have killed themselves over the past two years, leading state officials to designate it a "suicide contagion area." Bachmann’s office declined to comment, but her history of lenience with bullying and refusal to support anti-bullying state legislation in 2006 has critics citing her response as fostering the cultural crisis. While Bachmann remains mum, the Justice Department and Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights are both investigating allegations of antigay bullying in connection to the spike in suicide rates.