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

Erin Gallagher, 13, Cyberbullying Claims Another Life

with 3 comments


On the news today, I heard the latest report about the high-profile case of in the fungal meningitis outbreak that’s gripping our country.  So far, 29 people have died from the outbreak, an outbreak that has affected more that 400.  A true tragedy, and they’re working feverishly and tirelessly to bring an end to the loss of lives.  What I didn’t hear on the news today, haven’t heard on the news at all, was anything – whatsoever! – about the seemingly neverending stream of teen suicides.  The silent epidemic.

Saturday night, October 27th, 13-year-old Erin Gallagher ended her short life after enduring “severe” cyberbullying on the website Ask.fm.  If you’re thinking that that name sounds familiar, it should.  I hasn’t even been a month – 18 days, to be exact – since I wrote about yet another young girl who ended her life because of cyberbullying endured on that same website.  I certainly don’t mean to diminish the impact of the deaths in the fungal meningitis outbreak that’s sweeping this country.  Death, whatever the cause, is final.  Families are left to grieve.  Families are left with unanswered questions.  Families face unfulfilled dreams.  And, from someone’s negligence, so far 29 people are dead.  Twenty-nine sets of families and friends have been forever impacted.  Absolutely, that’s newsworthy.

Here’s my point:  since the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year in August, this blog has identified 29 teen suicides!  And, those are only the ones I’ve found out about!  There.  Are.  More.  Yet, there’s no news reports for me to listen to.  There isn’t some type of “task force” in place to try to get to the bottom of the epidemic called teen suicide.  In fact, in most cases, it’s kept very hush-hush.  Twenty-nine teen suicides that I know about since the beginning of the school year.  Families are left to grieve.  Families are left with unanswered questions.  Families face unfulfilled dreams.  And, because they saw no other way, so far 29 people are dead.  Twenty-nine sets of families and friends have been forever impacted.  Absolutely, that’s newsworthy!!!! 

Once teen suicides moves from being the silent epidemic to the headline news it should be, perhaps then we can start moving towards a definitive answer to the problem.  For example, Ask.fm has now been directly linked to two teen suicides in the less than 3 weeks.  Why?  Because there’s apparently no accountability factor on the website at all.  In both cases, it was reported that it was basically a free-for-all with cyberbullying running rampant.  There’s no way to report anything; worse, people can post there anonymously.  If this kind of information was being made public, like the meningitis outbreak, AS IT SHOULD BE!!, then, as with the meningitis outbreak, we could start working towards a solution.  Sadly, that’s not the case.

The theory of reporting it could possibly lead to more, “copycat”, suicides kinda pales when you look at the reality that the suicides are still happening on almost a daily basis!!   Therefore, obviously, keeping them “silent” isn’t the answer.  How many fatalities would there have been had they not hit the “panic button” on the meningitis outbreak?  How many lives would’ve been lost had A.I.D.S. not taken center stage back in the early days of the epidemic.  Right now, your head should be reeling as you think of how high the toll could’ve been in either case.  Rightfully so.  It’s scary to think about.  Now, think for a minute how many fewer teen suicides there would be if the epidemic was properly addressed, put on center stage.  We’d be forced to look at it for what it is:  a devastating epidemic…and epidemic that is highly preventable.  Then, by looking at it realistically, and head-on, we could start working towards a badly needed solution.

Anything short of removing the misplaced veil of secrecy from the epidemic of teen suicide is doing a great disservice to the victims as well as their families and friends left to mourn them.  Keeping it secret is allowing it to continue unchecked.  Keeping it silent is allowing the bullies to get away with playing a role in another human being ending their life with no consequences.  Keeping it silent is allowing school officials and, in some cases, law officials to continue to minimize incidences of bullying and the effect they have on people.  Keeping it silent is, simply put, allowing the death toll to continue to soar.

Ask yourself how many of these young people would still be alive if only half the attention that the meningitis outbreak has received what put on the epidemic of teen suicides.  Then, ask yourself “why isn’t that happening!?”  Break the silence, confront it head-on, and we’ll start seeing the number of teen suicides reduce.

This has spun out-of-control.  Twenty-nine teen suicides, that I know of, just since the start of this school year.  And, I just learned of two more, just tonight.  For those who haven’t figured it out yet, whatever it is we’re doing to prevent this from happening isn’t working.  For the sake of 13-year-old Erin Gallagher, and those who have gone before her, we need to try something different.  And, we need to start right now!

May you rest in peace, young Erin.

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3 Responses

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  1. A 13 year old boy in my town name left unmentioned for parents privacy just took his life last night at home in his room dad was making dinner called him for dinner instead found him hanging. I knew these people. Loving father. My point to this. Talk to your kids watch your kids. If something small seems wrong do not blow it off something small to you could be life threatening to them. I have two children an I’m terrified after reading these posts an this suicide hitting close to home. We as parents an teachers need runtime together an voice this is a problem an that these kids can get help before this happens. An as for these kids bullying maybe they need forced therapy as well.

    Melissa

    November 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm

  2. http://www.scarsdale10583.com/201206122528/neighborhood-news/parents-warned-against-cyber-bullying-on-ask.fm.html

    Why is this website permitted to be up and running.. With all these reports about cyber bullying.. How do we get this website shut down permanently..

    Ely Conroy

    November 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    • Thanks for posting this here and on the facebook blog page, Ely. I’ll certainly spread the word. They need to come down. At the very least, they need drastic policy changes. Thanks again.

      Ron Kemp

      November 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm


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