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

Jordan E. Shaffer, 15, Death by Suicide

with 7 comments

His best friend contacted me, via a comment on the blog post about the teen suicide cluster last month on the other side of Pennsylvania:

October 15, my best friend, I had just heard he had [committed suicide] [because of] one of the kids at my school bullying him.  I have known him for eleven years, and now he is gone.Jordan Shaffer, 15, of Meadville, PA, ended his life Sunday, October 14th.  It was a case that seems to have involved some bullying; however, bullying does not seem to be what led to break point.  In fact, in a post on one of the memorial pages already set up in Jordan’s name on facebook, his mother clearly stated that it wasn’t because of bullying.

I realize there are many rumors floating around there about various things concerning Jordan’s death.  To my knowledge, he was NOT a victim of bullying.  PLEASE STOP SPREADING RUMORS!!!  What Jordan did was DUMB.  I do NOT blame anyone for what happened.

How do we go about making these young people understand that, regardless of what they’re going through at the moment, no matter how bleak things seem to be or how overwhelmed they may feel at the moment, nothing is worth ending their lives? What is it that we’re missing in our quest to convey to them that, given time, their lives will get better?  Like everyone before him, Jordan’s friends characterized him as someone they’d never expect to end their life.  Outwardly happy.  Obviously, though, inwardly, there had to be a lot of inner turmoil.

There has to be a way to keep these young people alive long enough to realize that they haven’t even reached the prime of their lives, yet!  There has to be something we can do and/or say to make them understand that no matter what they’re going through at the moment, it isn’t so severe that they should end their lives.  Before we can get to that point, however, we must come to the point where we can see life through their eyes as opposed to life through our own “teenaged” eyes.  They’re two completely separate worlds.

For many, teen years are some of the most difficult in life. Our bodies go through changes; relationships become complex; we begin to learn social roles; and more than ever we’re expected to grow up earlier. These changes and demands may leave a teenager feeling helpless, confused and pessimistic about the future.
Sometimes problematic circumstances, such as divorce, substance abuse, domestic violence or sexual abuse, complicate and worsen these “growing pains.” Dealing with adolescence is difficult enough by itself. When other such problems are added into the mix, life can seem unbearable to the teenager, resulting in feelings of depression, destructive behavior or even suicide. (ref: Understanding Teen Suicide)

There are many things we experience as teenagers.  A broad spectrum of emotions.  That holds true today more than ever as today’s youth are exposed to so much more than the generations before them could ever imagine.  The heightened level of teen suicides speaks to that.  Yet, in hindsight, I’m sure it’s not much of a stretch at all to say that there were warning signs of imminent danger.  Unfortunately, most of us aren’t too well-versed in knowing the warning signs:

  • pulling away from friends or family and losing desire to go out
  • trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
  • changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • major changes in appearance (for example, if a normally neat person looks very sloppy – as if they’re not taking the usual care of themselves )
  • talk about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty
  • talk about suicide
  • talk about death
  • talk about “going away”
  • self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or driving too fast, for example)
  • no desire to take part in favorite things or activities
  • the giving away of favorite possessions (like offering to give away a favorite piece of jewelry, for example) suddenly very happy and cheerful moods after being depressed or sad for a long time (this may mean that a person has decided to attempt suicide and feels relieved to have found a “solution”)  (ref: Warning Signs of Teen Suicide – What to Look For)

Jordan Shaffer leaves behind a grieving family and at least one devastated friend who contacted me the day Jordan’s life ended to let me know that his best friend “…for the past 11 years” was now gone for good.  And, that nothing would ever be the same.  No, it won’t.  Hopefully, now you’ve found peace, Jordan.  And, to you, his family and friends, may you, too, find peace.

********************************SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES********************************
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The Trevor Project
Suicide Prevention
Enough is Enough: the blog page

7 Responses

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  1. I think Winston Churchill said it best: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” It’s tough to do, but I’m living proof that things can get better.

    Christine Seip

    October 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm

  2. Sad article but thank you for opening some more eyes and perhaps saving a life. May there be more mental health resources all over the world and more compassion to reach out to these kids so they’ll others and themselves a brighter future

    Tamara Marino

    October 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm

  3. This is so sad… lost my 18 year old son 2 years ago to suicide… something that bothers me is his mother saying what he did was “dumb”… maybe it was just a poor choice of words during a time of intense grieving.. What he did may seem “dumb” to some people, but I can assure you, one does not take their life for kicks.. I’m sure he was going through intense pain to have done this. I wish blessings and love for his family and friends, as I know what they are going through. I don’t think there is a worse torture than losing your child to suicide. RIP Jordan.. I’m sure you will be very, very missed.. ❤

    Joyce Coulter LuvUaustin

    October 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm

  4. Makes me sad to keep seeing these kids that are so hopeless at such a young age. It really made me sad to see his mother write, “what Jordan did was DUMB”. That doesn’t sound nice or caring at all, though I’m not imply his mother isn’t caring. Many people do not realize what extreme pain and overwhelming despair is involved for someone to get to this point. It makes no sense to many and I hate when I hear people say it was a selfish thing to do. How wonderful for them to have never felt so helpless and hopeless.
    Have PEACE now Jordan, I’m sorry you hurt so bad that it came to this, but I can understand. You were obviously loved, perhaps you didn’t feel it, see it or believe it. (I’m not condoning suicide by saying I understand)

    Christi Wolfe

    October 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm

  5. I wonder if we have narrowed down the term ‘bullying’ to mean one or more people harming directly or indirectly another, then place this term only within the school yard or work place. What if for some the bully is the Commnity. Individuals can get overwhelmed with negative messages from media, social groups, families; most not meant. But for some to look arround our/their world may make one wonder what is it all about and is it worth staying. Let me tell you from personal experience…stay…you will be supprised how great and wonderful it can be, and you can be part of it.


    October 19, 2012 at 8:41 pm

  6. I have had friends that have been affected by cyberbullying and found this video… I believe it is important that laws are stronger to prevent more needless deaths. Please watch and share this video The group that created this video also created a petition for everyone to sign to help make our laws stronger: It only has a 154 signatures which is sad… they need 100,000 to turn it into a bill. This won’t bring the ones we have lost back, but it will help prevent more innocent victims.


    October 22, 2012 at 1:39 am

  7. He was a dear friend of mine. I found this page after goggling his name. It make me sad that I’ll never see his face, or give a high-five. We had so many good memories it”s hard to pick just one. I loved you like my own brother and at time I felt like we were. I’ll never forget you.

    Brennen Lee Burke

    November 15, 2012 at 10:03 pm

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