Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Daniel Tatum, 15, Death by Suicide

with 16 comments

This might be the most complex, and heart-wrenching, teen suicide I’ve written about in quite a while.  Reading comments written in  the days surrounding the event, from people who were close to him, there were several elements in play, all at once.  That’s difficult, at times, for some adults.  For a 15-year-old, it can prove to be fatal.

According to “close friends” of Daniel’s, he had been dealing with bullying.  Whether it was at school or cyberbullying, or both, wasn’t stated.  There’s also a report, from yet another friend, that a friend of his was involved in a horrific car accident that left her with brain damage, an accident that involved them texting to each other, with her sending him a text right before the accident.  There’s no word on her condition; however, another student from Bank County High School, which Daniel attended posted this:

We had 2 deaths today at banks county high school. Courtney Phagen and Daniel Tatum.  Courtney was in a wreck earlier this week, and Daniel was shot at the high school. Please keep the families of these 2 wonderful people in your prayers tonight. The whole town is devastated.

It is unknown to me, at the time of this writing, whether Courtney was the friend that Daniel was texting at the time of her accident.  What is known, however, is that she died the same day of Daniel’s suicide attempt.

Whether or not Courtney was the girl he was texting at the time of her, the thought of having a hand in a friend’s accident, one that caused severe damage, is a heavy load for anyone to carry.  Being 15-years-old and in that predicament can be devastating.

The bullying issue, though still unconfirmed, is a recurring issue we hear in the overwhelming majority of all teen suicides.  Unfortunately, we continue to hear about it in the overwhelming majority of all teen suicides.  That, of course, says that not nearly enough is being done to address the situation.  And, until it is truly addressed as the epidemic that it is, we’re going to continue to hear about it for months and years to come.

By this point, there can’t be an adult or school-aged kid around who hasn’t heard that bullying, as it pertains to teens, has become a major issue in schools, online, on the school buses, and more.  It’s so heavily covered, in the media as well as online, it makes you wonder how and why it’s not only continuing but, seemingly, increasing in both frequency and intensity.  I guess what I’m not understanding is how can school-aged kids see the occurrences of bully related suicides that constantly appear in the media and online and continue to do the very actions that they already know is driving others to end their own lives?  If people are dying as a result of being bullied, how is it that the ones responsible for the bullying still continue to bully, as if it’s a game?

One thing I’ve learned since getting involved with the bullying/teen suicide phenomena is that there are no easy answers to any of these questions.  The bullying issue is deeply complex.  Oft times, the bullies, themselves, are dealing with deep-rooted issues, issues that manifests themselves in the bullying of others.  In many cases, the bullying is brought from the homes, where they’re taught (be it directly or indirectly) to be intolerant as opposed to being tolerant of others.  Then, on top of that, they’re bombarded daily will social cues that tells them that bullying others, people whom they perceive as different from themselves, is not only okay but, in some cases, acceptable.   That leaves us with the question:  “where do we begin?”  So far, the answer has proven to be elusive.

One day shy of his Sweet 16th birthday, Daniel Tatum had too much on his young plate.  Much more than he was capable of dealing with by himself.  Tragically, the only way he could see to “clean his slate” was to end his life.  We can speculate forever as to what exactly caused the final break.  And, all the speculation in the world won’t return Daniel to his family and friends who loved him.  Rest in peace, Daniel.


Enough is Enough: the blog page


Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Suicide Prevention


16 Responses

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  1. He’s braver then me. I’m 17 and I still haven’t been able to “pull the trigger”. Sadly, I don’t have a gun, or any other means to kill myself in a clean way.
    Respect to him.


    September 7, 2012 at 7:09 am

    • Logan, there are four links provided in this blog post that provides you with resources and people you can talk to virtually at any time. Also, the Enough is Enough facebook blog page, the first link, has a PM feature that allows you to speak directly and privately with the admin there. You are not alone.

      Ron Kemp

      September 7, 2012 at 7:51 am

    • Never hesitate to seek help, and insist upon getting it, whether through school counselors, friends, the internet, the phone… Use those links Ron listed. And take it from an old fart like me: It really does get better!

      No More Mythology

      September 7, 2012 at 8:26 am

    • Loqiwan, perhaps something inside of you realizes that to “pull the trigger” wouldn’t be the answer. Your comment breaks my heart – please seek help, and please don’t end your life. No problem is insurmountable, no matter how much it seems like it may be at the time you are in the midst of it.

      Jan Hobbs

      September 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

    • Logiwan – My son ended his life when he was 17. His 20th birthday is coming up in November. I am begging you to please seek help, tell someone. Whatever you are going through there are people out there who would do anything to help you and see you through. Our family and all of my son’s friends are completely devastated at the loss of his beautiful, precious life. You matter! You are perfect just the way you are! Please talk to someone and my one bit of advice is to just wait………things will get better. Hugs!


      September 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    • Logan,
      Please, please, please….. seek help. You are so loved. You are so important and have your life ahead of you. What bothers you now will be a dim memory when you are older…. allow that healing to happen.

      My beautiful, kind, funny and sweet daughter took her life last Easter at age 15…. I cannot begin to express to you the wrenching heartache and pain our family and her friends and even the community at large continue to feel. Don’t do that to others.
      This seemingly huge wall of pain that you can’t see around at your age will go away. Be strong. Choose to LIVE and FIGHT that darkness you feel in your heart. I completely understand the pain our Grace was experiencing, but her choice to leave this world was not the right one….
      Please feel free to message me at my daughter’s webpage: Grace K. McComas Memorial Webpage.
      I’m praying for you.

      Christine McComas

      September 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    • Though it may feel like it, you are not alone. There are many out there to help you. All you need to do is ask or seek help. You are so young and have a bright future ahead of you. When you are depressed or saddened and feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I am here to say there is. I’ve been there. Though I am much older I can attest that there is hope no matter what your situation. Things will get better even though it may not seem like it. God never gives you more than you can handle. It’s continues to amaze me what we can endure and come thru and are stronger and better for it. Remember Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. And those you leave behind will always be haunted by your death and what they could have done or why you would do such a thing, Please don’t even contemplate taking your own life. Nothing is worth it and it is usually for all the wrong reasons. If what you are going thru is something that someone has done to you, taking your life only hurts those who love you not the one that’s hurt you.
      Please talk to someone, a friend, a teacher, a relative….Listen to all of us who have reached out to you on this site. We all care, though we may not know you. We are all praying for you. I hope with all my heart you find the peace you need to live a happy life of a 17 year old! These should be some of the best years of you life… have so much to look forward to. Be strong and know you are not alone.
      All my prayers are with you………


      September 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    • Logan, please tell someone about how you are feeling. Take it from a college girl like me who hated high school because of bullying and other angst; life does get better afterwards! It may take some time, but keep holding on.


      September 8, 2012 at 1:57 am

    • There is a way out of this..Please talk to someone if not your parents to a authority figure..My 16 year old niece was being cyber bullied and school bullied, THANK GOD, there is a higher power that she believe in..She got down on her knees and prayed to GOD that things would get better, then she called me which I am so grateful she did…Take a stand today for yourself..You do not need to feel this way..I don’t know who you are or what you look like, but my heart goes out to you for feeling this way.. I am a parent of two boys and I worry everyday, I can’t imagine any child feeling like there is no way out..Please speak up, you are not alone, You are worth living…I care…I will speak for you..

      Aimee Torres

      October 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm

  2. Logan, please, PLEASE reach out to someone you can talk to – even if it’s a complete stranger on the other end of a suicide prevention hotline. I’ve been there – had the means and the desire, and it was the most awful feeling I’ve ever had. I can’t begin to imagine your pain, but I remember mine, and I’m so glad I managed to tell a therapist how I was feeling. Logan, your life is precious – it truly is. Please don’t give it away. You are NOT alone – there is someone out there who cares about you and will help you. But you have to reach out your hand and ask for that help. It’s so hard to do that, but it’s worth it. It WILL get better. Not today, and maybe not tomorrow, and it can be a long road; I won’t lie to you. But you can take control and play a part in changing whatever is happening to you, and as difficult as that may be, I hope you will. Please stay alive. Good luck – I’m rooting for you!


    September 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm

  3. Bullying is not just in the high school in Banks County. It is in the elementary school as well. My granddaughter has many health issues and some of those issues are visible. When she is covered in exezma there are those on the playground who call her names like buggy, and you are catching and you are ugly. She is only eleven years old and a beautiful child. She can’t help the hand she has been dealt. She does not deserve this type of treatment anymore than the young man did.
    It got so bad that she didn’t want to go to school. She cried when it came time to go to school. She believed she was ugly because she had been told so many times at school.
    When children become bullies it is more times than not taught at home. If it is not stopped as a general rule it will continue into adulthood –
    No child deserves to be bullied because they are different. Everyone of us has something different about us we should embrace those differences and understand the reason.


    September 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm

  4. Daniel was my best friend, and I’ve definitely felt the impact after weeks of the incident. ):


    September 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    • For those of you sending these messages of support to the first commenter…perhaps your messages would have more impact if you got his or her name right? When did he or she become “Logan?”

      Lee Keels

      September 8, 2012 at 5:40 am

      • HIS name is, in fact, Logan. They’re responding to “Logan” because that’s his name and I posted it here as the first comment.

        Ron Kemp

        September 8, 2012 at 6:38 am

  5. No offense to you Ron, but please keep in mind that the things you hear are not always true. NO ONE knows why Daniel did what he did. There were no visible signs that day that he would even think of taking his own life. To anyone’s knowledge, Courtney and Daniel didn’t have anything to do with each other. But something was burdening him for sure. I know he was a fantastic guy and he didn’t deserve a burden of such impact. Keep in mind that these children’s families might be reading your post. As respect for families, don’t post silly rumors and stories that you hear. I’m sure they’re going through enough as it is, without people tarnishing their loved one’s names or spreading unwanted rumors. Be careful what you post. A family member like myself might be offended. Get your facts straight.


    October 20, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    • Thank you Justanotherface what you said could not be more true. Coming from someone who could not be more closer to Daniel.


      February 8, 2013 at 12:42 am

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