Zachary Gales, 14, Death by Suicide
Someone sent me information late last night to the facebook blog page about yet another young life lost to bully-related suicide. Stunned, but not surprised, I decided to do a quick search of just the ones that I’ve written about, the ones I know about. Since the beginning of this still-new school year, I’ve covered 18 teen suicides!!! Eighteen young lives, that I know about!, that was cut short due to suicide. And, in the majority of the cases, bullying played a role to some degree. Tonight’s makes 19.Zachary Gales would’ve turned 14 years old tomorrow. Life was just beginning. Instead, his family and loved ones are left to deal with what has to be unbearable grief. His mother posted a message to him on the tribute page that is already set up on facebook in his honor:
Zack, I keep opening this page and looking at you and trying to write something, and I just don’t know what to say. I love you so much, I can’t sleep ’cause I know you are no longer here. I want to yell and scream at you asking “why”. Why couldn’t you just talk to me? You are so beautiful, smart, loving, giving, and I miss you so much. I try to keep my mind busy and think of the times I knew you were happy, but it’s so hard to keep my mind away from I will never hold you again or kiss your soft cheek. Oh baby, I miss you so much.
Parents shouldn’t have to be going through that kind of grief as they mourn their young child who committed suicide. They shouldn’t be; yet, they are. It’s happening much more frequently than you’re reading about here. And, relief seems like it’s moving at a snail’s pace.
There is a long laundry list of why this is continuing at the pace it is, as I see it:
- There appears to be a stigma attached to being bullied. There has been cases where there was obvious bullying involved; yet, the family, for whatever reason, vehemently denied that fact. Listen, if close friends and schoolmates, or even siblings say that there was bullying involved, there was bullying involved. They are the ones who are spending the most time with these victims. They are the ones who really know what’s going on. Face it, when you or I were in our adolescent years, who knew more about what we were doing on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis: our parents? Or, our friends and siblings? We can’t fix a problem that we routinely refuse to acknowledge is there.
- There seems to be an extreme reluctance, from peers, to step up and get involved. I posted an article on the facebook blog page last week about a 13-year-old being absolutely pummeled at school by a 15-year-old. Savagely beaten. There were schoolmates abound! One was recording a video of it!!! NO ONE INTERVENED!!! Yet, when one of these bullying victims reach their break point and end their lives, hundreds and thousands of people, including schoolmates, show up on the various memorial pages, at the memorials and funerals, expressing their sorrow, their anger that this is going on, and their love for the victim. Reactionary. Being proactionary makes the difference.
- Across the country and around the world, officials who could and should be making a difference simply are not. Despite having the bright, worldwide spotlight now being shone on the bullying and teen suicide issue, there is still a tendency for school administrators and law enforcement to hurriedly make the “official” statement that “our ‘investigation’ has not found bullying to be an issue.” How convenient is that? How do these people go home and kiss their own children knowing that their inactivity is playing a major role other parents’ kids to end their lives?
- I get story after story after story about bullying incidents where the bullied victim reaches their break point and fights back…only to be punished and labeled a bully, themselves!!! That’s hardly a recipe for remedy. Instead, it’s a recipe for disaster. And, that disaster is being played out right before our eyes.
- We constantly encourage young people to talk. Talk!!! “Don’t stop until you find someone who will listen.” “There are people who care and will do something about it.” That’s what our words say. Our actions say something completely different. These young people aren’t necessarily so naive that they don’t recognize that, in most cases, they’re simply on their own. I harken back to Charles Andrew Williams and the 2001 Santee High School murders. Andy screamed at the top of his lungs for help from the bullying. No. One. Listened. Instead, 3 teens lost their lives in March 2001. (the 2 he killed, and Andy, himself, as he is now spending the majority of his life in a prison cell.)
- “Boys will be boys”; “kids will be kids”. The next adult who utters those words needs to be required to spend time with a grieving family that’s mourning the loss of their child from “boys being boys” or “kids being kids”.
So, why isn’t this slowing down? Why aren’t we seeing positive results for the efforts of thousands of people around the globe, both online and in “real life”? How is it that I have personally published now-19 stories about teens ending their lives since the beginning of the 5-week-old school year!!?? (realizing, sadly, that if I’ve written about 19 of them, there’s at least twice that amount that I haven’t heard about) Why is this school year off to a worse start than last year’s insofar as the sheer number of teen suicide cases? Here’s the answer: it’s because, for as painful as this is to understand and accept, not enough people are taking this seriously. Sad, but true. Oh, there’s plenty of the routine, “I’m so sorry” or “this has to end” to go around. But, what’s being done about it? Who’s really taking it seriously. Obviously, the families of the victims now take it very seriously. They now understand fully that more could’ve and should’ve been done. If nothing else, if every single person who reads this would step their own efforts up, even just a notch, if everyone who reads this were to intervene the next time they see bullying occurring, if everyone who reads this were to sit down and really listen to someone who needs to be heard, at least one life will be saved. Maybe more. The thing is we must, must, must stop talking about it, especially after the fact!, and start doing more about it. That’s an absolute.
Picture this: A mysterious virus has infected students and spread like a wildfire around the country. What pretty much amounts to one child per day is dying because of this virus. How quickly and definitely would we, as a society, work to eradicate this virus? What lengths would we, as a society, go to to make sure that this virus doesn’t kill any more kids?
Now, ask yourselves this: Why isn’t that same urgency being applied to the bullying and teen suicide menace that is plaguing our society?
The family and friends of Zachary Gales shouldn’t be mourning his death right now. They should be enjoying his presence and watching him continue to blossom. As of October 9th, however, all blossoming ceased. Heartfelt sympathy and condolences are sent to his family and friends. May you now find peace, young Zachary.
************************SUICIDE IS PREVENTABLE!!!************************
Written by Ron Kemp
October 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm
Tagged with Bullying, charles andrew williams, santee high school shootings, st. cloud high school, teen suicide, what happened to zach gales, who bullied zach gales, zach gales, zachary gales suicide
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