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

Joshuah Delos Santos, 13, Death by Suicide

with 16 comments


We have failed yet another one.  On Tuesday, September 18th, 13-year-old Joshuah Delos Santos took his own life.  Martha Angelica Gonzales wrote this about her cousin,  Joshuah:

Imagine being 13 and thinking about ending your life because you are being bullied… No one to turn to because you feel like speaking out will fuel the fire.  So you hide from everyone and mask it with a smile because you don’t want to make it a big deal.  Then, the day comes where you can’t take anymore and have that moment’s courage to end all the pain and suffering inside of you.

That day came.  The morning of September 18, 2012, my cousin Joshuah Allen Delos Santos decided to end his life because he was being bullied.

Please have a heart and make a difference by raising awareness about Bullying before it’s too late.  Josh did now show signs of being bullied.  Dont wait for the next victim to end their life because of bullies.  Stand up.  Speak out!

Joshuah must have endured some intense bullying, and probably for quite a while, to be pushed to the point of ending his life.  Several things really stand out, for me at least, about this tragedy:

  1. Once again, the authorities swept the bullying element right off the table and under the carpet:  “…police have not been able to find any evidence to corroborate those claims.

    “There’s nothing in our investigation at this point in time that he was bullied at all,” said Nanticoke police Chief Bill Shulz in a phone interview Wednesday.”  As is the case far too often, there seems to be a rush-to-judgement to take the bullying element out of the picture.

  2. According to everything I’ve read, Joshuah dealt with this all on his own.  He kept it in.  No one knew what he was going through.  That is, until Tuesday.

I don’t know what it’s going to take to compel the authorities, from the school administrators to the law enforcement agencies, to stop running from the reality of the menace of bullying.  Far too often I’ve reported cases of teen suicides where everyone close to the situation acknowledged that bullying was the culprit only to have the school officials and law enforcement agency in place at the time completely dismiss it.  Many schools, including Joshuah’s, now have zero-tolerance bullying policies on the books.  Yet, when we lose another teenager to suicide, and everyone close to the victim screams to the top of their lungs BULLYING, the authorities tuck their tails and run, quick to release “official” statements that bullying wasn’t involved.  Like Bill Shulz did in this case.

Zero tolerance is the perfect answer, and it looks great on paper.  It’s sounds even better to be able to tell the parents at the beginning of the new school year that, “yes, we have a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on bullying.”  But, what does that mean?  What good is “zero-tolerance” when kids are still being bullied to the point of wanting to end their lives?  “Zero-tolerance” is a great policy.  It looks and sounds great; however, this is real life.  And, in the real world, words without action are meaningless.  “Zero-tolerance” could’ve, and probably would’ve, saved Joshuah Delos Santos’ life had it been enforced rather than just in theory.

Like many young suicide victims before him, Joshuah kept all of the torment in.  His sister, Nicole, said:  “He was really good at hiding his feelings”.  Part of the pain that his family and friends will have to cope with for a long time to come is the fact that no one knew of his inner struggles.  But, in order for anyone to know, it is imperative for youngsters everywhere to understand that it is completely okay, even expected!, for them to speak up and speak out.  This has to be instilled at a very early age.  Speak up.  And, don’t stop speaking up until someone hears you!  I’m 100% convinced that it works.  It may not work 100% of the time.  However, if it works only 85% of the time, imagine the dramatic drop in bully-related suicides.

We must create a culture in where young people, like Joshuah, know in their heart of hearts that they can speak up and out, and there will be someone, anyone!, who will indeed listen and try to help.  In the homes.  In the schools.  Everywhere.  It’s has to happen if we’re ever going to see this devastating trend begin to reverse.  Indeed, the policy in place where Joshuah went to school can be very good:

The Greater Nanticoke Area School District, where Joshuah attended eighth grade, has a “zero tolerance” bullying policy and an anonymous “bullying report form” on the district website.

They have to have the confidence that talking about it, speaking up, speaking out will make a difference.  Too many of them are afraid that speaking up will only make things worse.  And, that’s our fault as adults.   We, as a society, are failing these young people miserably.  These suicides are very much preventable.  It’s imperative that we stop shaking our collective head, complaining about how bad this has gotten (which it has), and start taking strong, positive action to make this go away.  It’s not going to go away on its own.  It’s not going to go away with concerted effort.

Joshuah, rest in peace.  You can’t be tormented now.  And, to the family and friends Joshua Allen Delos Santos, my heart goes out to you.

*********************TALKING IS VITAL!  IT CAN SAVE LIVES!*********************

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The Trevor Project

Befrienders

Enough is Enough: the blog page

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16 Responses

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  1. Thank you so much for keeping us updated on these tragedies.

    Carol A Ranney

    September 22, 2012 at 5:36 am

  2. i

    maria figuero

    September 22, 2012 at 6:27 am

  3. How many more, O Lord? How many? My heart is breaking all over again.

    Scott Amundsen

    September 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm

  4. Hi Ron,

    Thank you for this! I have reprinted and linked it to the new teen social media website http://MakeItBetterRIghtNow.net. I look forward to reading many of your past posts!

    Kevin

    Kevin A . Carey-Infante

    September 23, 2012 at 12:24 am

  5. Thank you. I reblogged your post on my my blog here: lotusrocks.tumblr.com.

    Carlos Casas

    September 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm

  6. More often, at such younger ages. God this is sad. I hate knowing fellow teens and kids feel like death is their only answer, when we’ve barely lived.

    Rest in Peace Joshuah. They can’t do anything to you anymore.

    Beni

    September 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm

  7. How unfortunate that bullying seems to be a way of life by insensitive teens. Pleasure in hurting others is a sickness. Sad for everyone.
    PWare

    mjware

    September 25, 2012 at 2:11 am

  8. Thank you Ron for printing this. My heart goes out to Joshua’s family. I think these schools and law enforcement better open their eyes wide and take note of what is happening around them. Yes, blame someone or something else, BUT , what are YOU doing about this bullying problem ? Something has got to be done ! This is so sad ! Rest in peace Joshua.

    Donna

    September 25, 2012 at 2:29 am

  9. […] a span of one week, beginning September 18th with the suicide death of Joshuah Delos Santos, there have been 4 confirmed teen suicides in a 7 day period.  That’s 4 confirmed teen […]

  10. I am a health teacher in a public school. It is difficult to monitor or be aware of every situation. I emphasize to my students they have the power to stop the bullying. They witness the bullying behavior long before a teacher has any clue it is happening. Easy to blame school. WHat about the students who sat next to this wonderful young man in classes, in the lunch room, on the bus,etc.
    Fellow classmates need to stop sitting passively by watching and allow it to happen.
    SIlence gives the bully more power over their targets. EVERYONE needs to stand up to the bully. The school cannot do it alone.

    KM

    October 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    • That is 100% true. I was one of joshs greatest friend and as well as my friend Kaylee. We always use to SCREAM at the kids that did that to him. Buut it tended to make them worse. We had no idea what to do. He PLEADED and BEGGED for us not to go to the office so we respected itt. And to this day i regret that so muchi just wish my lil buddy was with me today. Its already 3 months. But it feels like a year. Their is hole in my heart and NO ONE will be able to fill it. Not even till the day i die 😥

      Tatiana DeJesus

      December 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm

  11. josh was one of my bestes friends today was 3 months. and i balled my eyes out because of it. I just cant believe hestruly gone.. i didnt think i can write one of these on her but every month i reread his obitiary. My friend kaylee and myslef are doing this type of suicide prevention/ bullying prevention program if u are iinterested pleaze contact myself at 570-332-8743. My name is Tatiana DeJesus. or contact Kaylee at 570-817-5219. Her name is Kaylee Grodzicki.we are both just 13 years old. This means the world to us just like josh did. 😦

    Tatiana DeJesus

    December 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm

  12. You really can’t feel sorry for this. The kid did not have to put a gun to his head and pull the trigger. Nobody else told him to and there’s no proof he was being bullied at all. Hey if people wanna kill themselves, let em do it.

    Joe Cranston

    July 2, 2013 at 7:19 am

  13. @Joe Cranston. Is it possible for you to try to put yourself into someone else’s shoes? Can you possibly try to feel the despair of a 13 year old, whatever the cause was? Have you ever experienced depression so deep that you felt you were in a black hole with no way out? Never criticize if you haven’t walked in someone else’s shoes, if you haven’t felt their despair. There but for the grace of God go you or I.

    Carol

    July 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    • I was raised by a Catholic family and was taught in a Catholic church where suicide is wrong and there is never a reason for it. Nobody told this child to kill himself and there is no reason to even do it in the first place. Bullied or not, there is help available for people who think this way. He could’ve got help and this would never have happened. I’m from Nanticoke and knew this kid’s family. The only thing that came out of his passing is a hurt family and another top news story. Did it really help him?

      Joe Cranston

      July 6, 2013 at 6:41 am


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