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

Jenna Young, 13, Yet Another Teen Suicide in Pennsylvania

with 16 comments

The owner of another page dealing with bully-related teen suicides contacted me on the facebook blog page and alerted me to the suicide death of Jenna Young.  She was just 13 years old.According to everything I’ve read about Jenna’s suicide, she was yet another victim of bullying…pushed to break-point by someone’s meanness and own lack of self-esteem.  Someone from her city sent this plea to Ellen DeGeneres’ facebook page:

Robert [sent to the] posted toThe Ellen DeGeneres Show

October 9 at 2:42pm ·

Hello Ellen,
I’m not sure if you actually get to read all of these posts that are flying up onto your fb wall.  I had wanted to talk to you about the travesty that has happened in my hometown of Ford City, PA.  While growing up in this rural community, there seems to be a rich sense of community.  However, what everyone fails to realize is that it’s just a facade.  I had been bullied when I had been in high school as one of the few kids that had come out in 1999.  The school district, respecting authorities, had turned a negligent brow to the side and continue to allow the bullying to repeat without repercussion.  I am glad that I am have grown to be a strong person and have pulled through that traumatic time of my life.
Sad to say that there is a girl who has not been as lucky to have the strength to be able to pull through. Jenna Jolene Young, 13, committed suicide on 10/07/2012 due to bullying.  The community’s police departments are saying that there was not a note and cannot prove that it had been because of bullying. People of this country need to be aware that just because we live in a community that is rural, that there are people out there who care.  Ellen, I am asking for your help in trying to develop an anti-bullying training and to shine a much broader light onto this subject to help educate this small community of school districts.  We as a whole need to realize that turning a shoulder is starting to kill our kids.


The love, hope, peace and equality seeker.

There are several things wrong with this.  For starters, yes, Robert, there are definitely people outside of your rural community who care and are paying attention to what’s going on.  What’s needed is more people, just like yourself, to continue to reach out beyond your community.  We will definitely hear you.  Hopefully, the reaching out will come before another teen suicide.

Secondly, I think we’ve seen this play out far too many times, where the “authorities”, the police agencies themselves!, the school districts!, are turning a blind eye to what’s going on with young people in these schools.  Rural, suburban, and urban schools, alike, there are instances upon instances of bullying being reported that all say the same thing:  no one is doing anything about it!  The question is no longer “how or why is this continuing to happen?”  We’ve reached the point where the question has to be “what can these people be charged with”?  Especially when the ignored bullying precedes another teen suicide.  We simply cannot continue to allow these people of authority to walk away from their responsibility of protecting these young people.  Are these people not parents, themselves?  How is it so easy for them to continue to turn a blind eye to what they’re obviously seeing take place right under their noses.  “A lot of the bullying takes place off the school grounds”, one teacher told me.  I don’t want to hear that!  Even with that being a possibility, maybe even a probability, there’s enough of it going on right there on the school grounds that no one is doing anything about.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that a lot of the “off the school grounds” bullying started on school grounds.  So, the day has come where we simply must start holding these people, these professional caretakers and educators, accountable for these young people who are being bullied.  Especially those who are being bullied to the point of suicide.

And, finally, and maybe even more importantly, before we can start attacking the teen, schoolyard bullying, we as a society, and as adults, need to grow up and start setting better examples.  Look around you.  Watch television for an hour, if you can stomach it.  Everywhere we look, in our daily lives, on television, perhaps in our own lives, we see bullying by adults on a regular and daily basis.  Politicians.  Religious leaders.  Educators.  No one is exempt.  We are teaching and training the younger generation to be bullies.  Period.  And, we’re seeing the results.

This isn’t a game.  This will not go away if we sweep it under the rug.  As adults, we are letting down a whole generation of young people to the point where they’re ending their own lives.  Sadly, when they do, two things always, always, always happen:

  1. Another family is devastated, left to try to find answers as to why their cherished child ended his or her life.
  2. No one, no adult, no teacher, no principal, no officials anywhereowns up to any responsibility to a suicide that could’ve been prevented.

Saying “this has to stop” is worn out.  Meaningless.  The intent behind those words is great:  real and heartfelt.  The problem is those words aren’t getting the job done.  Nothing is changing.  And, as we’re seeing, if nothing changes, nothing changes.  Nothing is changing.  Well, let me correct myself:  things are changing.  The teen suicide rate is rising.  The time is now for these “officials” to be held accountable for the bullying that they know is going on.

So long to you, Jenna.  I wish we could’ve reached you in time.

******************************SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES******************************




16 Responses

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  1. As much as we do need to press charges against ‘bullies’ the real empowerment is to teach kids that they don’t have to believe bullies. Report them, move on… I don’t know but we need to address mental health more than anything. We need to remember that the ‘torturing’ is not permanent. Millions of people have survived being teenagers, being bullied, ridiculed, treated unfairly, etc. Somehow we had foresight, hope, and courage to look to the future. We also need to be aware of how important we are to each other. These teenagers need to realize that there are countless people who care. It seems suicide is glorified, kids want to leave a legend by dying. We need to empower them with self-confidence, with the goal of growing and becoming an asset to their community, not the ‘poor me’ mentality that will surely keep them down.


    November 9, 2012 at 6:23 am

    • I’m not too sure I’m in total agreement with you. I do believe that we need to create more self-esteem in the bully victims so that they are able to deal with being bullied better. That said, the whole point of this particular article, and countless stories from people who contact me directly, reporting them is futile. Nobody really gives a damn, even in the event of a suicide. The people they are supposed to be able to report it to consistently turn a blind eye. That’s no remedy. I do agree that the mental health aspect needs to be addressed, but in conjunction with as opposed to it having a higher priority.

      This one is a huge sticking point for me: yes, you’re correct…many of us older people certainly did survive being bullied. I did, personally. However, people who continue to say this really need to understand that it was an entirely different world back then. Even in “back then” was only 10-15 years ago. From a personal standpoint, my school bully didn’t live in my neighborhood or anywhere near me. Therefore, once school ended, I was done with him for that day. While in school, we learned how to navigate around them as best we could. It just wasn’t as persistent. Today, bullying is a 24/7 phenomena because of computers and cell phones. There is no escaping it. These bullies are perfectly willing and able to torment around the clock, if they so choose. I, for one, can certainly understand how that could be back breaking. Conversely, the solution to that is more parental control over how their kids utilize social media. Easier said than done in today’s society.

      Suicide glorified? Not in the least. Suicdes, both teen and adults, have been kept hush-hush and taboo for as far back as I remember; yet, the number of suicides continue to climb. In fact, in a recently released report, suicide is now the #1 cause of injury death, surpassing homicides and car crashes. That’s significant. If anything, I think the time has come for us, as a society, to stop tip-toeing around the subject. The only way everyone is going to be able to get the full gravity of what we’re dealing with.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Ron Kemp

      November 9, 2012 at 7:40 am

  2. i was just curious to see if anybody had contacted you with regards to the suicide of Jenna Neff, t she was a teenn fromm the Purchase Line school in pennsylvania. i cant offer much information as i do not know her or her family. i caught the story on a a post to one of my friends facebook page. i wanted to share this information with you. i am just astounded by the number of teens feeling that this is the only way to make it stop. my son is in his first year of middle school and they have given a bullying assembly but like we hear on alot of these situations even if reported to school officials, nothing gets done. my little guy is an awesome kid but as we know what parents think isnt what goes when it comes to school. i guess its also weighing on my mind because here and there in high school i had been bullied, as well as my sister. thank you for taking your time reading this. kim ainsworth

    Kimberly Ainsworth

    November 9, 2012 at 7:59 am

    • Funny you should ask that, Kim. Jenna Neff’s story is the one I’m working on now.

      Ron Kemp

      November 9, 2012 at 8:02 am

  3. I figured out when I was a kid in the 1960s that bullies with blue suits and guns, bullies with ties behind desks, and bullies with whistles around their necks don’t stop bullying. It’s quite simple.

    The only person who ever does stop bullying is the old guy who still walks the halls, even though he could be behind a desk or in a squad car, and knows the score. Hand-wringing, legalisms, new rules, and all the rest have only made it harder (or impossible) for him to do his job.

    Eric Pepke

    November 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm

  4. I live in the town of Sarver, which is only about 25 minutes from Ford City. I was often bullied in high school, and it is taking me a long time to overcome the isolation and bullying that I experienced during my high school years. I’m not going to lie and say that I know how to stop this, because I don’t. Western Pennsylvania is a mostly Conservative area. Athletics and conformity is the main focus in the majority of schools around here, not diversity.

    Derek Warren

    November 9, 2012 at 10:04 pm

  5. This so wrong, there is NO PROOF that this young girl commited suicide over bullying, I am a friend of the family and spoke to her mother a week ago and the investigation is still continuing, she was very upset about all of this, they cannot blame bullying because they have no evidence at this point.


    November 11, 2012 at 3:44 am

    • Hi Anne. I spent several days perusing over any information I could find about Jenna’s suicide. Everything that I read mentioned bullying. Obviously, the last thing I’d want to do is create more stress for her family.

      That said, it is also commonplace for the bullying aspect to be swept under the carpet, for whatever reason. Whether or not Jenna actually was a victim of bullying, as has been reported, as long as people continue to sweep bullying under the carpet, we’ll never be able to get a firm grip on the problem. And, make no mistake: bullying is a problem of epidemic proportion today.

      Ron Kemp

      November 11, 2012 at 9:48 am

  6. I do agree, but people need to get the facts straight, the mother feels in her heart it was not due to this and no one has come foward to say it was bullying, yeah a few kids might have said some things to her and her friends, but like her mother said there is no proof. The internet is evil, ex is facebook, it spread like wildfire, there were a hundred different stories on there what happened, dont believe everything you read, reguardless, she lost her life and it is just so sad. They may never know what really happened to their daughter.


    November 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    • I get that, Anne. And, I do try my best to write strictly from a fact-based perspective. I think that there is a tendency amongst grieving parents to want to disassociate their child with something with such a negative connotation as bullying has today. That’s understandable. I’m no professionally trained psychologist, but I would bet that the thought process behind that is that they don’t want to accept that their child was vulnerable enough to have been bullied.

      The mother, and you, are 100% correct: it’s highly possible that you’ll live the rest of your lives without ever knowing what, exactly, pushed Jenna over the edge. But, because there was “no documented” instances of bullying doesn’t mean none existed. In fact, I’d go as far as to say there’s nothing “documented” in most cases. What I’ve learned in my year since doing this blog is if the victim’s friends and/or siblings say there was bullying involved, chances are really high that that’s the case. And, the lack of knowledge on the parents’ part is nothing new and nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. How much did your parents really know about you when you were growing up? Conversely, friends and/or siblings spend the most time with us, especially in our teen years. They are who we spend the majority of our time with. They are the ones who know us best.

      You hit it on the head: What’s most important here is that her daughter is gone forever. And, she may never really find or figure out why this happened. From personal experience, I can say that the “why?” stayed in my thought processes for a couple of decades!! And, the pain of loss is a lifetime. It’s so, so sad that so many families are having to go through this every day.

      Ron Kemp

      November 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      • There is so much you dont know, they have not even ruled the death as being a suicide yet, the case
        is still opened with the detectives, Jennas bestfriends said she was not bullied, her death does not make sense. Someone started this nasty rumour and it got out of hand, do u have proof it was bullying??? Then dont say it was if you have no proof! You dont know the family, so stop assuming just because you READ something, everyone assumes just because the read it, the facts are true. It irritates me, when you cant get one person to say back like, oh it wasnt due to bullying?
        I dont mean to sound ignorant, people just believe everything they read..


        November 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm

        • You’re correct on all counts, Anne. If my article is causing undue stress for the family, I can always just remove it. Or, I can edit out any assumption of bullying. My blog is to raise awareness and memorialize the ones who have been lost, not to cause the families stress.

          Ron Kemp

          November 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm

  7. Jenna D.E.P

    Pablo sánchez

    November 20, 2012 at 1:16 am

  8. She was my best friend. You people didn’t even know her.


    January 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm

  9. I really don’t understand how everyone just assumes it was suicide and it was from bulling. I was one of her friends and known her since 3rd grade. She never really showed signs of depression or lack of self-esteem. She was happy and cheerful most of the time. Once she told me about someone saying something about her in a negative way but she dealt with it just fine. She was making so many plans all the time even to go to McDonalds that very same day. Honestly I can’t imagine her thinking of it that quick to decide to do that. From one moment of making plans to death, it doesn’t seem to work that way in other teenagers my age and even older I have talked to about suicide. Almost everyone said try wouldn’t want no one to find them, so tell me why she would do that after making plans? All of her friends even said there were no signs of anything that coul lead to that. What make absolutely no sense in my mind is why everyone who did not know her are taking it upon themselves to get her death to have so much attention when they didnt even truly know her. I understand her death was sad, believe me I do and I miss her as well all the time. If she was here today though I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t want all these people mean rooming her death as if they personally know what she went through and what she thought of herself. Not just on here but everywhere from ou high school, Facebook, and anywhere else. Jenna will truly be missed by all who know and seen her. And to you Jenna I hope your still writing your fan fictions up there I miss you my waffle sissy.


    May 22, 2013 at 3:20 am

  10. I’ve known Jenna Jolene Young since we were in preschool … My grandmother and I have been good friends with Jenna and her family … her mother is like a second mother to me … Jenna was always happy … She was beautiful and talented… all I’ve heard were rumors but no one is sure wat really happened … there’s only one person who knows and that’s Jenna… when i talked to her mom she said she is not sure if it was even an accident or suicide … but idk why everyone is making so many horrible rumors about Jenna and her death … Bullying is a major thing everywhere … no matter where u go or wat u do there is always gonna be someone who hates u … but i don’t know why anyone could hate Jenna …. R.I.P Jenna … i hope ur still drawing those amazing drawings up there … u will be missed …

    Chelsea J

    June 18, 2013 at 8:01 am

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