Jarrod Nickell, 18, Bullied to Death
He wanted to play football for his new high school’s football team. Unfortunately, even though he joined the team, he wasn’t allowed to because he had just transferred to his new school in Michigan, moving from Maryland. As a transfer student, Michigan required more credits before being eligible to play. Disappointed, but not dejected, he went on to wear his football jersey, #10, and cheer his school’s team on when they played. Then, the bullying started.
They bullied him for wearing the football jersey and working the sidelines during the games. That’s something I’ll probably never understand. And, as we’ve heard far too many times, school authorities passed it off as boys being boys. His step-mother, Michele had to intervene which, of course, only made it worse. Now, he was bullied for being a “momma’s boy”, as well. January 10, Jarrod ended the bullying he had endured by taking his own life.
There’s far more to the story, as you can imagine. According to Michele, she and her husband have said all along that it was more than bullying that led Jarrod to end his life. He’d also been dealing with depression from a young age. He’d been living here in Maryland with his mother and step-father; however, once he turned 18, he moved to Michigan to live with his father and step-mother.
In the aftermath of Jarrod’s suicide, it’s reported that the Flushing Township police released a statement within 24 hours, sending letters home to the parent of his schoolmates, stating that bullying had nothing to do with his actions. And, we’ve heard that before, as well. Yet, it is confirmed by his step-mother that he was, indeed, bullied. At times, severely so. According to his step-mother:
The week prior to his death someone removed all the lugnuts from his tire and it came off while he was driving .. again not bullying
That goes beyond bullying, reaching into criminal activities: reckless endangerment and possibly even attempted murder. But, boys will be boys. As we’ve seen far, far too many times before, there was a breakneck rush to declare “bullying had nothing to do with…” Jarrod’s suicide. And, whereas it’s acknowledged that bullying wasn’t the sole reason for the tragic event, clearly bullying…and, blatant bullying, was involved.
Javon Gill, 20, of Flint was a close a friend of Jarrod’s. Gill first met Jarrod in October at Jarrod sister’s Halloween party and they clicked — like brothers.
Gill said Jarrod confided in him, telling him he was having trouble focusing in school because of the bullying and that he missed having a lot of friends like he did in Maryland.
Who do these “authorities” check with before hastily committing to their “bullying wasn’t involved” stance? Where do they get their information? Why are they so eager to wash their hands of the situation when a young person has ended their lives?
“[Bullying] may not have been the only factor that pushed him, but it was a factor,” said James Nickell.
Here’s my take on this continuing issue: we, the concerned citizens, family members, and friends of the bullycide victims need to resolve to hold these authorities’ feet to the proverbial fire and force them to take the bullying and ensuing teen suicide issue for what it is. It’s a plague. It’s an epidemic for our society. To brush these events off as “boys will be boys” or “bullying has always been around” or whatever other catch-phrase they chose to absolve themselves of any responsibility or accountability is absolutely not acceptable. However, we can continue to say that for as long as we want. It won’t be until we come up with a solution, a solid plan, that holds their feet to the fire in each of these cases. The plain, sad truth is that they are just not taking these cases seriously, regardless of what they say in attempt to make us believe otherwise. They can argue that point all they want, but the proof is right in our faces.
Currently, one of the major news stories I hear every day (many times every day) is about this meningitis outbreak that’s been traced back to tainted steroids having been injected. Currently, at least 20 people have died from this outbreak. And, of course, officials are working hard to end the outbreak, including holding people accountable. After all, 20 people have died from it. Conversely, I’ve personally written about over 20 teen suicide just since the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year!! Where is the outrage over that!? Where is the media coverage on the bullying/teen suicide phenomena? Where is the accountability when there are clear-cut cases of bullying? Am I minimizing the deadly outbreak of meningitis? Absolutely not. What I am saying, though, is that for whatever reason, these cases of bullying, cyberbullying, and teen suicide are being treated as “oh well”. ”Boys will be boys”. In some cases, the victim is found to blame…for being bullied!! What I am saying is that it’s long past time for this to be treated with the urgency that it screams to be treated with. This is a 5-alarm blaze, but it’s being treated as a brush fire. For the sake of the thousands of teens who end their lives annually, that’s a grave injustice. For their families, it’s a slap in the face.
Jarrod Nickell was an Eagle Scout, an assistant Cub Scout leader, a teenager who sometimes struggled and, some say, a victim of bullying. He said he planned to join the Marine Corps following graduation. He’d even already talked to a recruiter and started training. He was living a promising, exciting life. And, now he’s gone.
For Jarrod’s parents, it’s an ongoing struggle as they learn to cope without their beloved son. The pain is still very raw. You can offer your condolences and support on this facebook page set up in Jarrod’s memory.
Written by Ron Kemp
October 22, 2012 at 1:13 am
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