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

David Q. Phan, 14, Death by Suicide

with 16 comments


Thursday, November 29th, 14-year-old David Phan had a meeting, along with his mother, with the school principal.  They left school together around 1:30 p.m.  Around 3:00, David returned to a skybridge near Bennion Junior High School, where he was a 9th grader, and committed suicide in front of schoolmates and a few parents.david phanAs police and school officials are, once again, downplaying to allegations that David had been bullied, students who went to school with him and knew him offer a completely different story:

“He was nice to everyone, even if sometimes people weren’t nice to him,” says a fellow ninth-grader.

“I just don’t understand why people can bully him and be OK with it,” said another student. “He was a really sweet kid and didn’t hurt anybody. He didn’t do anything wrong”

“They were just mean to him for no reason,” said yet another.

So, it’s apparent that those around him on a daily basis understood that David was, indeed, being bullied.  For what reason remains a mystery at the point.  What’s also apparent is that, once again, the police and school officials are, at least at this early stage, letting another teen suicide with bullying implications slip through the cracks.

“He was one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever known,” said yet another fellow ninth-grader.

He remembered when the teen had bought him a drink and never expected to be paid back for it.  But other students picked on him, this student went on to say. His classmates and friends said he was bullied and called names at school.phan2These are real-life people, schoolmates and parents, sharing real-life unimaginable grief because some people still find it okay to be abusive, be insulting, be exclusionary, to…bully.  They have no regard for the pain and destruction that they know they’re causing.  They don’t give a good damn that some of these young people are ending their own lives behind the senselessness of bullying.  They flat-out do.  not.  care.  One reason for the nonchalance is they aren’t seeing any sort of consequences for this behavior anywhere!!!phanAnd, because there are no consequences anywhere, ever, for these cases of bullying that lead to suicide, scenes like this are being played out every single day somewhere around the world.

“Our investigation hasn’t found any indication of bullying….”  Sound familiar?

Because no one is ever held accountable, not ever, in these cases, the young people who do the bullying have become emboldened in their actions.  Emboldened, their troubling behavior continues even as it continues to contribute to the growing number of teen suicides.  You don’t think the number is growing (over last year)?  So far this school year, I’ve personally reported on now-40 teen suicides.  That’s just since the end of August.  But, wait.  That number doesn’t account for the additional 5-6 that I know occurred but was never able to gather any information.  That includes two right here in my own backyard.  Worst still, that 40 only represents the ones that I’ve reported on.  Make no mistake:  there have been at least that many more that we haven’t heard about.  And still, with all of the statistical data right there for us all to review, with the hundreds, perhaps thousands!, of family members and friends who are left to grieve and struggle and wonder every single day for the rest of their own lives because our society still condones the actions that lead these teens to commit suicide.  Condones?  Yes, condones.  By remaining silent, or sweeping it under the proverbial rug, or simply turning a blind eye, you are condoning the behavior.  

Something, obviously, was going terribly wrong with David Phan.  His mother and he met with the principal, in a closed-door meeting, the day of his suicide.  Upon leaving the meeting to go home with his mother, David was checked for weapons.  Something, obviously, was going terribly wrong with David Phan.

Of course, the police and school administrators report “no sign of bullying”.

Are you getting angry, yet?  You should be.

So, once again I say, to you David Phan, I’m sorry that we, as a society, let you down.  You should be enjoying those friends who loved you so much and getting ready for Christmas.  Rest in peace.

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

BEFRIENDERS

THE TREVOR PROJECT

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE

 

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16 Responses

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  1. Once again I am so deeply saddened, I am also sick to death of School Administers, Teachers, and Law Enforcement, for their complete failure to protect, and care for our children while in their care. Yes I said in their care because if I were running a community group, or something a kin to that, and a child took their own life because they were being bullied while in my care, I would be arrested, and jailed. I should be held accountable if that were the case. So why is it our Schools are not held to the same standards, and laws I would be held accountable for? Here is why, they simply do not care, nor do they feel it is their responsibility. They are the greatest enablers to child bullying, and it is largely their fault along with the parents of the bullies. The parents, Teachers, and Law Enforcement allow this to continue, and their complete lack of responsibility is a shameful example. Enough is enough end this ignorance now, protect our children.

    Jenny Saintonge

    December 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    • I completely agree with you Jenny. Schools need to take a more active role when it comes bullying. A child goes to school to get an education and should not have to be tortured in the process. Too many lives are being lost because the schools are not taking a more active role and parents are not teaching the children to respect their peers regardless of what their personal opinions. If I was a school administrator I would not be tolerating bullying. Children need to be taught that there are consequences for their actions and the consequences should not be innocent people suffering. I am outraged over the lack of responsibility that parents and schools take.

      Tamara

      December 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm

  2. What in the hell would convince people that this is an issue worth attention? Why am I even Discussing.. what would convince people that this is an issue WORTHY of ATTENTION. This is costing lives. Young Lives. If a disease was doing the same, you better damn well believe science would be all over the place for a cure. If a serial killer was present, the law would be after him like a flame on the trail of gasoline. In reality, both are present. Just not a traceable virus, and not a physical murderer. But they’re both there. I feel like the girl who cried wolf screaming it all out at the top of my lungs time and time again and it means nothing, because people have lost faith in me for repeating what they want to believe is a lie. A fantasy that would never happen to their own child, and doesn’t happen Because of theirs. Responsibility. It’s exactly what people don’t want to accept. It’s difficult to say ‘It’s my fault’ by our nature. But that temporary pain, that will eventually be satiated by the action we could take after we admitted it, is apparently too much to bear to save lives – or at least try to. Pride stands in the way of basic human decency. Or maybe it’s the desire to live in that fantasy world, where everything’s routine and we’re the only ones in our lives. Or maybe it’s both. Either way, one thing is BURNING CLEAR. Teenagers or even children younger WILL CONTINUE to take their own lives. Take Their Own Lives. Because of what is being said to them, done to them, held against them by their peers. Teenagers. Children. Will commit suicide. Do you see that? Children are killing themselves. Because of inaction. And because there are no consequences. As long as this continues. Death will follow. I promise you.

    Sarah

    December 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm

  3. My heart is bleeding for his family. I had the crap bullied out of me at this age and I cannot IMAGINE how much more awful it would have been if the Internet had been around, Perhaps the only reason I survived at all. All I mean is that as I do think back to those days, running and hiding just go get from the public bus stop to my house, I remind myself that I survived and that I would wish for the answer to come to me about how to fix this epidemic. “sensitivity training” is not the answer, I just would give anything so no more kids feel so hopeless that suicide is the only way out. Running that gauntlet for two years straight was enough of a nightmare, I could at least leave it outside. But with Social Media and the like, I don’t think I would have survived.

    Sally Simpson

    December 1, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    • I was the same boat as you in 10th grade; the only reason I think I survived was because I had dial-up internet that was only suitable for doing homework. No Facebook or Myspace for me. I think kids and teens need less or no-social media use at all. If they want to talk, they can speak on their cellphones or meet face-to-face. No texting or online messaging needed.

      yawriterinthemaking

      December 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm

  4. Those bullies carry a smoking gun in their hands and they get away with it time after time. It’s as if the blood of these gay /bullied children doesn’t count. It is up to us to speak for our little brothers and sisters and right this terrible wrong. My heart aches for these children and a piece of myself dies with them, but they will have to drag me kicking and screaming to make me stop waving this flag to stop this horrendous bullying.

    Ruben Ramirez

    December 2, 2012 at 2:06 am

    • I agree with you Ruben. They get away with it because they are not being held accountable for their behavior. Children and teen suicide is going to continue until parents, school administrators and law enforcement take a more active role. Until this happens, these people are sending the message that bullying is acceptable and then take a passive approach when a tragedy (suicide) happens. Bullying is going to continue to be a problem as long as it continues to be ignored. I wish there were more concerned parents, school administrators and law enforcement officials. Children go to school to get an education and should not have to be tortured in the process.

      Tamara

      December 2, 2012 at 8:41 pm

  5. The several known kids who bullied Jamey Rosemeyer, who died 9/18/2011, were subjects of a criminal investigation. The result: five day suspensions from school. They had hard evidence of online posts telling him to kill himself, AND, the kids were still bullying him after his death. His sister went to a school dance not too long after Jamey’s death, and when Jamey’s favorite song came on, the bullies began chanting “You’re better off dead! We’re glad you’re dead!” This whole situation has long since reached the point of being unbelievably horrible. Yet this country is like the proverbial frog in a pot of heating water–we’ve gradually gotten so used to the deadly situation that we don’t even notice death…

    Carol

    December 2, 2012 at 9:25 pm

  6. Most parents don’t know that schools don’t do anythign about bullying because of teh NCLB law. There is a stipulation that is about if schools punish bullies, they dont’ get funds from NCLB. It’s long to explain but this is the short of it – if a school is deemed ‘unsafe’ parents can put their child in another school. This is a little secret that most parents don’t know about. The way schools are considered unsafe is by the amount of disclipline and problems there. The way they know how much disclipline problems are at school is by how many disclipline records there are. No punishing bullies-no disclipline records-safe school- child stays at school- school keeps money PLUS gets MORE money from NCLB becasue the school underhandedly shows that the school is not ‘unsafe’. This is an outrage and needs to be made public. Parents of these victims are PAYING these so called educators their PAYCHECKS to KILL their own KIDS!!!
    Bullying, suicides, killings, ect are the DIRECT fault of the schools.

    foodybu

    December 4, 2012 at 5:10 am

  7. The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act is part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. It provides federal support to promote school safety but does not specifically address bullying and harassment in schools. There are no federal laws dealing directly with school bullying;[3] however, bullying may trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal anti-discrimination laws enforced by the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.[4] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-bullying_legislation)

    Carol

    December 4, 2012 at 6:21 am

  8. Something occurred to me recently, that is, that perhaps we should have a twin emphasis on teen depression along with bullying. Bullying can cause depression, and depressed teens are at a much higher risk of self-harm from being bullied. The standard response is, “well, there wasn’t bullying, or at most, bullying was only part of a complex situation.” Since many teens suffer from depression at one time or another, the assumption should be that some kids are especially vulnerable, and we don’t know which ones, so there should be no “complex situation” defense. Just thinking out loud…

    Re. the NCLB comment above by “foodybu,” I see your point. There is a provision in some states that bullies can be transferred to another school to separate them from the victim. Every state is different. Schools that crack down on bullies could be seen as “unsafe” due to discipline records, but I think it has more to do with instances of a specific child being unsafe due to whatever situation.

    Carol

    December 4, 2012 at 6:36 am

    • Carol, as always, you hit the nail on the head. Often, actually, it’s depression COMBINED with the bullying that pushes these young people to end their lives. Jamie Hubley suffered from severe depression. The bullying was there, but to a much lesser degree. What I’ve learned, from several family members of some of the suicide victims I’ve covered is that they knew the depression was there, they even knew it was severe. They did everything you could imagine to save their child. In each case (that I’m referring to), the child was surrounded by love and support. It just wasn’t enough to save their lives. So, yes, attacking the depression angle is certainly something that needs to be done in conjunction with the bullying aspect.

      Ron Kemp

      December 4, 2012 at 6:50 am

  9. Because we know that a significant number of teens are mildly to severely depressed, that should make the mandate to put a stop to bullying even greater. I believe there needs to be a federal law in place, because the patchwork state laws just aren’t cutting it at all. And it should not have to be up to the family of the victim to pursue justice. Kids 14 or younger are routinely tried as adults for certain crimes–why is it so hard to get a law in place that has stiff, mandatory penalties for stalking and harassment (which is what bullying is) that covers kids down to that lower age bracket?

    A friend of my daughter’s was on Facebook last night. He was crying over a broken relationship and said to her that he wanted to kill himself. She says everyone was mean to him. (He graduated last year.) I told her to stay on talking to him, referred him to this site, asked him to come be with us for Christmas (one of the other problems he was having) sent him a note tonight…praying he will never just be a name on a list that’s already too long…

    Carol

    December 4, 2012 at 9:14 am


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