Daniel Tatum, 15, Death by Suicide
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.
****IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE STRUGGLING, KNOW THAT YOU’RE NOT ALONE…EVER!! REACH OUT TO SOMEONE. YOU WILL FIND SOMEONE WHO WILL LISTEN.****
Written by Ron Kemp
September 7, 2012 at 6:50 am
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