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

Posts Tagged ‘Bullying

Nigel Hardy, 13, Bully-related Suicide

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Even though you haven’t been reading about them here over the past month, the teen suicides – LGBT and straight, alike – have been steadily mounting.  And, even now, with the news of the Boston Marathon bombing dominating the news (and, rightfully so), the teen suicides continue.  What really gets under my skin is how little attention these tragic events get even as the death toll continues to climb. I’ve said it before, and it’s worth saying again and again:  it’s as if these young people’s lives are expendable.  They.  Are.  Not.nigel hardyYesterday, April 15th, 13-year-old Nigel Hardy was reported missing after being suspended from school for defending himself in school against bullies.  Seeing that news circulate on facebook made me nervous, at best.  Fear of the worst set in quickly.  Word spread very quickly in Palmdale, where he lived and went to school.  His father found a suicide note in his bedroom Monday morning and then noticed his handgun was missing.  The school Nigel attended, Hillview Middle School, was placed on “heightened awareness”, basically lockdown.  Monday night, Nigel was found.  Shortly after, he was pronounced dead at an Antelope Valley hospital.

Nigel, who turned 13 only last Thursday, April 11th, was a cheerleader at his middle school.  Apparently, that led to his being bullied. Various news reports say that he had gotten in a fight with his bully, or bullies, and that led to him being suspended.  He became despondent over that.  Now, he’s gone.Nigel Hardy2Where does this end?  When do we seriously and honestly reach the point where we’ve seen enough carnage and devastation that comes with these teen suicides and their aftermath?  When do we stop making excuses for the ones responsible for pushing these young people to the edge and start holding them accountable?  When is enough truly enough?  I don’t think anyone can answer that, and that’s what has become overwhelmingly frustrating for me.  No one has any answers!!  No one has any solutions!!  And, to add insult to injury, our government officials are paying attention to any- and everything but the fact that bullying and the related teen suicides have reached epidemic proportions.  Instead, we’re continuously dished the same, tired rhetorical responses.  We’re still getting the “boys will be boys”, “kids will be kids” spiel that we’ve been hearing for far too long, now.  Nigel’s suicide is not the first one where the person(s) involved in the bullying are known.  What is being done about the fact that their actions cost another teenager his life!!??

Here in Maryland last year, there was a horrific traffic accident involving four young people who were best of friends.  They’d been partying, and the driver certainly should not have been driving.  Three of them died in the accident.  The driver survived.  He’s now serving a lengthy prison sentence for his actions.  Why?  Because his actions led to the deaths of his three friends. He was held accountable.  These young people who terrorize their schoolmates, or sometimes even strangers online!, to the point where the victim ends their lives get nothing!  There is zero accountability!!  And, that, as much as anything, is a major part of the problem.  As long as they know they can continue to do this without any risk of repercussion, they will continue.  Not only that, but their actions will continue to escalate.  It’s really just that simple.

Sure, there are those who believe that the best way to deal with this is to also “treat” the bully(s).  As one person on the facebook blog page commented last week:

Bullies have a Reason for the way the act so I felt sorry for them

We agreed, ahem, to disagree.  I do understand that these menaces have issues going on in their own lives that causes them to do the things they do.  In many, if not most!, cases, it’s a very bad living condition at home.  That’s a whole different issue for another time.  And, I’m all for getting them the help they need to become better, more productive, and less menacing people.  That is, when there isn’t a death attached to their name and their actions.  Understand this:  it is 2013.  The “Information Age” is maturing.  There is 100% absolutely NO WAY that Nigel Hardy’s bullies didn’t know that there are teens committing suicide NEARLY EVERYDAY!!, and bullying is often the root of it!!  NO.  WAY.  They KNOW this is happening!  It’s impossible for them to NOT know.  Period.  Accept that.  It’s impossible for these kids to NOT know that their actions could very well lead to yet another suicide.  We’ve MUST understand and accept this reality!  And, the reason why it’s so vital that we, as adults, come to this understanding of what really going on is because, once we accept the reality that they KNOW what they’re doing could very well lead to yet another suicide, we can accept the reality that they absolutely must be held accountable for their actions.  Anything less than that, and we’re only fooling ourselves.  These young people are telling us, as loudly as they can, that they don’t care if their victim kills themselves!!  In some cases, they even TELL the victim to “go kill yourself”, “nobody would care if you died”, and worse.  How can we NOT hold them accountable for their actions!  How can we even dream of coddling the perpetrators when there is a devastated, grieving family who will never, ever have their young, loved one to coddle anymore?  How is that even justifiable?  It’s not.

This has gone much, much too far.  The time has long since passed for us to take some serious action that will prevent this from continuing to happen.  As loudly as people are shouting for marriage equality, so, too, should the voices be raised for our school officials, our law enforcement agencies, and our lawmakers to get off their collective asses and start making some real changes in policies that will prevent these teen suicides to continue to mount.  Anything less, and we’re only spinning our wheels as yet another family mourns.Nigel collageWe’ll never know how brightly Nigel’s star would’ve shone.  Rest in peace, young man.

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ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: the blog page

Aaron Dugmore, 9!!!: Bullied to Death Because of RACE!!

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Where do I start?  This has me numb.  A nine-year-old boy has ended his life because of bullying.  You wouldn’t know it by reading this, but just typing that caused me to walk away from the keyboard for a bit in order to re-collect my thought.  It’s truly that mind-numbing. Aaron Dugmore2Focus.

As hard as it is to wrap ones brain around, 9-year-old Aaron Dugmore, ended his life after being relentlessly bullied at school for being…white!!! According to news sources, the school that Aaron was attending was 75% “different ethnic background”.

Aaron was threatened with a plastic knife by one Asian pupil, who warned him: ‘Next time it will be a real one.’

He was also allegedly told by another pupil that ‘all the white people should be dead’ and he was forced to hide from the bullies in the playground at lunchtime.  (source:  u.k.dailymail)

This is too much.  My mind doesn’t want to go here.  Focus.  Aaron Dugmore committed suicide at age 9 because of what amounts to racist bullying.  Racist bullying that, once again!, nothing was done to prevent.  It’s not just in this country:  it’s a worldwide lack of caring!!  That lack of caring breeds inaction.  The inaction allows the bullying to continue to fester and the suicides to continue to mount.  Aaron Dugmore was 9!!  Where does this end?  Where is the line drawn!?

“I went to see [the school principal] a few times, but he only said, ‘You didn’t have to come to this school, you chose to come here’.”

You tell a parent who is coming to you out of concern that her nine-year-old son is being constantly bullied, and instead of acting upon her complaint and concern, “you didn’t have to come to this school, you chose to come here.  You blame her for her choice in schools.  Then, the nine-year-old son ends up dead because he felt, at nine-years-old!!!helpless and hopeless.  No matter how you attempt to spin it, the death of this 9-year-old boy is on your hands for life.  aaron dugmoreThat, unfortunately, won’t bring Aaron back to his family, will it?  Holding this callous “school administrator” responsible (which I sincerely hope is done!) won’t put that smile back on his face and back into the hearts of his parents.  Finding these young racists who bullied Aaron to the point of no return and expelling them from school as well as holding them legally accountable for his death won’t bring him back, either.  All of the above would be a great place to start; however, all of the options are reactive as opposed to being proactive.  And, as long as we continue to be reactive in our response to these tragedies, this epidemic will continue to escalate.

If I had the one, definitive answer that would end this once and for all, it would’ve ended years ago.  Rather, I do have some ideas that I think would make an enormous difference in the culture we’re seeing today.  There are certainly things that could, and should, be done that will make a difference:

  • An absolute must has to be accountability.  The current culture of “there are no reported incidents…” has to come to an abrupt end.  In the majority of these cases, the bullying has been reported to “school officials”.  In a recent case, it was even well-documented!  In the case of Aaron Dugmore, however, his mother was told that she “chose to send him” to that school, which is to absolve themselves of any responsibility and place the blame on the mother!  Teachers, and school administrators, are responsible for the safety and well-being of the students in their care.  Period.  If they are unable to provide them a safe environment, they need to find another profession.  Too many lives are being affected by their negligence.  And, needless to say, far too many lives are being lost.
  • There needs to be accountability for the parents of the bullies, as well.  That bullying is leading some to a lifetime of emotional problems is very well-documented.  Even in the cases where the bullying doesn’t lead to teen suicide, the emotional scars run very deep.  And, then there are the instances where the bullying does lead to suicide!  The bullies need to be identified, and their parents need to be held just as accountable as the child who committed the act of bullying.  Some will say that’s easier said than done.  I say not.  It all starts in the home.  One of two things are occurring:  either the home environment is one that fosters and promotes bullying, of the lack of parental control is such that these young people are free to do as they please, with no worry of consequences.  In either case, the results are far-reaching and devastating.
  • Most importantly, the young person(s) involved in acts of bullying absolutely must be held accountable.  In Maryland, just yesterday, a 15-year-old boy was sentenced to 35 years for shooting one of his schoolmates on the first day of school.  No one died, and the shooting victim is back in school.  Aaron Dugmore can’t go back to school.  Neither can the many, many other victims of suicide because of bullying.  His actions didn’t kill anyone, yet the 15-year-old teenager here in Maryland will be in prison until his 40s at the earliest.  The actions of some of these bullies are leading directly to the death of their victims, yet they are not being held accountable!!!  How are we, as a society, continuing to allow that to happen?  Am I saying that all bullies need to be locked up for decades?  Of course not.  What I am saying, though, is that as long as they know (and, understand that they are well aware!) that there will be no consequences for their actions of intolerance and, in some cases, hatred, they have no reason to even reconsider their actions.

It’s time to get very serious about the bullying and related youth suicide issue that we’re seeing.  Bemoaning another loss and mourning their death is a perfectly natural response; however, it’s time to demand action that will prevent this from continuing to happen.  Right now, with the climate currently in place, we’re seeing a lot for posturing.  Smoke and mirrors.  Ineffective “zero tolerance” anti-bullying policies, policies that look great on paper and sound really good to tell parents and the media, but do absolutely nothing to address this continuing problem.  And, sadly, the only way this is going to end is for you, the concerned parents and citizens, to stand up, make sure your voices are heard as you tell them that you’ve had enough of reading about yet another young person ending his/her life because of bullying.  Tell them how empty your home, and your heart, is without your young son or daughter who was bullied to the point where they saw no other way out but to end their life.  There really is power in numbers.

Aaron Dugmore was 9-years-old.  Unfathomable.  Rest in peace, Aaron.

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ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: the blog page


Joshua James Maddox, 15: Bullying Leads to Suicide in the U.K.

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Bullying, and bully-related suicide, isn’t restricted to the U.S. borders.  It’s happening worldwide.  The stories and the circumstances really don’t vary that much:  one or more misguided kid dealing with his or her own self-esteem issues, or just trying to fit in, verbally, emotionally, or sometimes physically abuses one of their peers to the point where that peer can’t take anymore and ends his/her life.  Add to that, the “official” response to it is also quite universal…to the point of frustration.joshua maddox2Joshua James Maddox was a month away from celebrating his 16th birthday.  He apparently dealt with Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder for which he “suffered months of cruel taunts from classmates“.  He also had a girlfriend who was two years younger than himself, for which he was labeled and “paedo” and, again, taunted brutally.

The list continues to grow.

We’re no closer to a solution today than we were last year at this time.

I woke up earlier this week to a voicemail from a distraught, tearful mother who had just lost her young son to yet another bully-related suicide.  It was heartbreaking to hear the depth of her pain.  Through my own tears, I was reminded how real this is and how devastated families are following these tragedies.  I was reminded that we need to be doing much, much more to prevent this from continuing to happen.joshua maddox3

Here’s the deal:  this is not going to get any better until we truly reach the point where we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! and truly mean it.  It’s that simple.  Parents of the bullies must be held accountable for their kids actions, especially when their child’s actions lead to the death of another child.  The bullies, themselves, must be held accountable, especially when their actions lead to the death of another person.  The school “officials” absolutely must be held accountable when they fail to take action to prevent bullying to continue to fester in their classrooms and schools.  The only way out of this is total accountability!  As long as no one has to answer for these life-changing tragedies, they are going to continue to happen.

I want young people to see what effect bullying can have and educate them better about how to deal with children who have mental health issues.

I think bullies need a stronger punishment, I feel deep down that nothing will be done about this and I worry it could happen to another family.

Those are the words of Joshua’s heartbroken mother, but they could be the words of many, many other mothers, and fathers, of past suicide victims whose child had endured insufferable bullying.  They are also the words that are now being echoed around this country and around the world.  There HAS to be accountability!!!

It’s becoming increasingly hard for me to believe anything other than the fact that these bullies simply do not care about human life.  They have no regards for the lives of others.  Bullying and bully-related suicides are in the news with such regularity, the only way to not know what’s going on is to live with your head tucked safely in a place where the sun doesn’t typically reach. joshua maddox

There are still those who say that these young bullies should face no punishment, that they should not be held accountable when their actions lead directly to one of their schoolmates ends his/her life.  There are still those who say that we need to coddle the bullies because they are dealing with issues, themselves.  To those people, I will simply say tell that to some of these parents who are now left with unfathomable grief, with a gaping hole right in the middle of their hearts and lives, for the rest of their lives!!   Explain to the grieving mother who just told me, through tears, that she just wants to hear her son sing again that his bullies shouldn’t be held accountable.  Tell Joshua’s parents that the bullies who tormented her son because he had ADHD and a girlfriend 2 years younger than himself that no one should be held accountable for her having to live the rest of her life without her talented son.  You can’t.  And, you know why you can’t?  Easy answer.  You can’t because you’re speaking theoretically.  You would have a much different point of view if this were your own child or someone close to your life.  Then, you, too, would want to see heads roll.  There has to be accountability.  Anything less than that, and we’re sending the message that these young lives are expendable.  They’re certainly not.

The “Sweet 16th” birthday is a milestone that Joshua Maddox won’t get to experience.  How much longer are we going to allow this to continue before we finally mean it when we say enough is enough!!!???

Rest in peace, Joshua.

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ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: the blog page

Hailey Petee, 11: Bullying leads to suicide

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It’s really not getting any better.  This one is as painful as they come.  Hailey Petee was 11-years-old.  Eleven years old!  The preteen girl from London, Ohio ended her life over the weekend.  Her lifeless body was found by her mother very early Sunday morning.haley peteeI don’t even know where to start.

It is reported that the London, Ohio school district is very proactive when it comes to bullying.  In fact, officials as well as Hailey’s mother have said that the bullying she endured didn’t occur in school or on the school grounds.  Rather, she was apparently severely bullied by middle-schoolers while riding her school bus.  Her mother explains that Hailey was tormented by these middle-schoolers on the school bus as well as around town.  It became so bad, they had to change Hailey’s bus route to avoid them.  Further, she was also restricted on where she could go around town, and with whom.  “She couldn’t even go to the park anymore”, says her grieving mother.  Apparently, even that wasn’t enough.

One of the bullies was an adult, a “neighborhood woman who had a daughter Hailey’s age”:

A neighborhood woman who has a daughter Hailey’s age was charged in October with disorderly conduct and telephone harassment. According to the police report, she had been yelling and cursing at Hailey when she saw the girl outside, and she had been taunting the family on Facebook. (The Columbus Dispatch)Hailey_Petee_CLH

Hailey Petee reportedly hated to wear the thick-framed glasses she was forced to wear in order to see.  They were a source of her harassment.  She was a very pretty young lady, glasses or no.

So, now what?  Here’s a case where the parents were proactive and did what any good parent would do to protect the welfare of their child.  It wasn’t enough.  The school system at least appears to be one of the few proactive systems that actually takes bullying very seriously and takes action when they hear of incidences of bullying.  It wasn’t enough!

Increasingly, people seem to be coming to the realization that one step that has to be implemented is there absolutely has to be some sort accountability placed on these people who are determined to wreak havoc on other people’s lives.  hailey's motherThey know what they’re doing is wrong!  They know what they’re doing is malicious!  They know that bullying is leading some to suicide!  Yet, the continue to do it anyway!  Why?  Well, there’s no one right answer; however, there are a few that comes immediately to mind:

  • they know that there will be no consequences;
  • they just don’t care;
  • no one is taking the time to teach them any better;
  • their older role models (parents, older siblings, older friends) are showing them, by example, that it’s okay to be a bullying.  It doesn’t matter what you do or say to another human being, even if it mean they end up committing suicide.

Dispute any one of those, and I’ll tell you you’re not paying attention to what’s going on.  It’s really that simple.  We are a society in great turmoil.  It’s hard to convince young people that bullying is wrong when they continuously see adults in their lives do it.  Role models.  Parents.  Teachers, in some cases.  Politicians.  Religious leaders.  Look around you!!  There are great examples of “it’s okay to bully others” in our faces every single day…by adults!  I’ll continue to say this until I’m blue in the face that in order to address this epidemic, what must start with the adults.  Period.  There is just no other way out of this.

Even on the facebook blog page, a page that is dedicated to a.) this blog; and, b.) raising anti-bullying awareness, it’s split 60/40, with the 40% being of the “suck-it-up-and-grow-a-backbone” mentality.  That gives you a snapshot of how deep-rooted this problem is.  How can we begin to work on teaching these young people that bullying is just plain wrong, how can we think about saving these young people from ending their lives, if we can’t come together, ourselvesas adults, on finding a solution?  Meanwhile, the young people are watching…and, listening.  And, we’re continuing to see the sad results of our indecisiveness.  WE need to figure this out!

I often get the argument “I was bullied when I was in school, but I didn’t kill myself!  There’s always been bullying.  These kids today are just soft.”  Someone posted a similar comment last night.  My response is worth repeating here:

Yes, make no mistake: bullying has ALWAYS been around…in one form or another. Here’s the difference with today’s kids, and bullying. You and I couldn’t send texts; you and I couldn’t tweet; you and I didn’t have facebook; there was no WE DIDN’T HAVE THE INTERNET! The Internet has changed EVERYTHING!!! For starters, yes, today’s youth’s coping skills aren’t what ours were back then. You know why? Because they don’t get enough opportunity to interact, read: cope, in REAL LIFE!!!! Everything is OMG!!!, LOL!!!!, etc. These kids live their lives in the cyber-world. So, naturally, their coping skills are lagging from when you and I were in school. (thank GOD there was no Internet back then!!!!) Secondly, and this is important to understand, bullying in our day had a whole different face than bullying does today. I dealt with the schoolyard bullies, push you around, call you names, take your lunch money…the typical stuff back then. Big deal. Once the last bell rang for the day, WE WERE FREE!!!! We went home, we did our homework (maybe), then we were outside playing with our friends. That was then. Once again, today’s youth are cyber-kids. Therefore, bullying has the potential of being a 24/7 ordeal. Texts don’t end at the last bell of the day; tweets don’t stop just because they’re no longer in school; facebook status updates and comments proliferate after school for these kids. The bullying has the potential of NEVER ending!! We absolutely must stop comparing their world to ours if we’re ever going to figure this out. Two completely different worlds! These kids are in serious trouble unless, and until, we adults figure something out.Story haley

We, the adults, are failing these young people miserably.  They looking to us to lead them out of this disaster, and we’re dropping the ball.  Again, and again, and again.  In young Hailey’s case, it seems that everyone actually did do everything they could to prevent it from coming to this.  It just didn’t work out that way.  Now, they must go that next step and identify these youngsters who mercilessly bullied Hailey and make certain that they are held accountable for their actions.  There’s no other way.  As long as they realize that nothing is going to happen to them, they will continue doing what they’re doing.  And, we’ll continue losing one young life after another.  We can do better.  We owe it to this generation to do better.

Rest in peace, Hailey

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A Guide for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Lifeline


Enough is Enough: the blog page

Jerad Meriweather, 13: Parents Blame Bullying for Suicide

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” Vibrant”, “prolific writer”, “brilliant mind”.  These are just some of the accolades bestowed upon 13-year-old Jerad Meriweather, who committed suicide Friday, January 18th.jerad meriweatherThe dual dilemma of bullying and bully-related suicides amongst teens is not going away.  Far from it.  We’re actually seeing an acceleration of incidences where bullying has been named as the root cause, or at the very least a contributor, to another teen ending his or her young life.  It’s a runaway train of a broken record.  Worse, the “officials” responses and handling of these cases are both irresponsible and mind-numbingly repetitive.

“There is no record of ______ ever being bullied”.

“Our records show that bullying was not involved in this case.”

Clearly, I could go on and on with the typical responses we hear time and time again.  Meanwhile, we’re seeing case after case of another teen’s life cut short, by their own hand, in which families and friends name bullying as the culprit.  What concerns me is that we are continuing to allow them to get away with being irresponsible in the handling of these cases.jerad meriweather2

Jerad had a circle of close friends whom he cared about deeply and was known to take on their pain and troubles as if they were his own.

Here’s what we know about bullying cases:  there’s rarely a “record on file” of it because these young people are afraid and/or reluctant to come forward with it.  They’re told over and over to “talk to someone”, to “tell a trusted adult”, “talk to your counselor”, all good things, to be sure.  However, what experience teaches them is that even if they do report it, typically one of these three things will happen:

  1. Reporting it will only lead to more bullying, of at a heightened level of intensity;
  2. THEY get labeled the problem, the troublemaker, as if it’s their fault that someone else  lacks so badly in self-control and self-esteem that they have to find others to pick on…typically someone they perceive to be weaker than themselves;
  3. Nothing.  Nothing at all.  I hear over and over and over ad nauseam about cases where the bullied reported it to “the responsible adult” only to have nothing done about it at all.  I guess the solace we could find here is that at least in the event the worst were to happen, there actually would be something “on record”.  

vigil for jeradFar too often, families and friends are having to say goodbye to their young loved one because…well…we, as a society, have yet to figure out how to get a firm grip on the bullying and bully-related suicides.  We’re failing miserably at coming up with a solid plan-of-action that will reduce the roar of bullying and bully-related suicides to a dull murmur.  The cost of that failure is a seemingly endless stream of teen suicides.  Teens, like Jerad Meriweather, who, by all accounts, was a shining star in the making.  At the same time, we must also work harder to understand another common component in teen, or any, suicide:  depression.  Did Jerad deal with depression and bullying.  Well, that question will remain unanswered for a lifetime.  However, according to Gerald, Jerad’s father, his son…

…devoured books and wrote essays that were better than work by adult authors. One essay about depression won Jerad an award at school in October.

 Of course, writing an awarding winning essay about it doesn’t mean that he was dealing with it, himself.  He could’ve very well been looking at it through the eyes of one of his close friends:

Jerad had a circle of close friends whom he cared about deeply and was known to take on their pain and troubles as if they were his own.

“Passionate” is how Gerald Meriweather described his son.  From everything I’ve read about him, “incredible” would have to be added to the many accolades.  It’s maddening that we, as adults, cannot figure a way to prevent this from continuing to happen.  It’s shattering, to me, to continue to see these young faces appear with the word “suicide” attached.  But, it’s heart-wrenching to see that we, as a society and as adults!, we’re still failing so miserably at preventing this to happen.  They deserve so much more.  They deserve a lifetime.

Rest in peace, Jerad.

Duncan Ballard, 14: Family Says Suicide Was Due to Bullying

with 10 comments

On New Year’s Day, 14-year-old Duncan Ballard ended his life.  The family of the eighth-grader says that his suicide was the result of bullying.

Duncan Alexander BallardIt’s hard to imagine that, in the year 2013, with all of the glory of the Internet and the “Information Age”, non-stop 24/7 news outlets, and social networks that, at times, supersedes the news outlets, that we are still trying to figure out how to put an end to the bullying that is causing teens to end their lives.  It been said here to the point of repetitiveness that anyone, anyone!!, who doesn’t know by now that bullying is at the root of far-too-many teen suicides either has their head buried (fill in your own expression completion), or they just flat-out don’t care.  Either case is problematic.

Stories continue to pour in, on a daily basis, to the facebook blog page telling about being bullied, sometimes severely so.  And, almost always, the stories are pretty much the same:  They’re getting bullied at school; the teachers/school administrators pretty much turn a blind eye and do nothing; depression is followed by self-harm (in one way or another).  And, sadly, sometimes it comes to this.  Yet, even when it does come to this, STILL nothing is done.  It’s as if today’s youth are expendable.  They’re not.  Not by a long shot.

Duncan’s family described him as different, loving, smart.  Creative.  He was a songwriter and liked to write and sing his songs.  He was also, they say, being “picked on” both at school and at home by his peers.  New Year’s Day, he reached his breaking point.  He went to the upstairs of his family’s house and ended his life.

As for the responses from both the school administration and the Marion police department, you can recite their answers from memory.  It doesn’t change much.

So, then, what IS the answer?  How do we even begin to get across to these young schoolyard bullies that their behavior is a.) unacceptable; and, b.) causing severe harm and even death?  How do we get them to care!!??  How do we get the officials to change their mindset and approach when it comes to bullying?  How do we get them to care!?  And, how do we get the bullying victims, themselves, to understand that they’re stronger than they realize, that this incredibly cruel and sometimes even criminal behavior they’re enduring now will definitely pass?  It’s unfortunate that in 2013 there are still so many unanswered questions.  It’s even more unfortunate that there are still young people who are ending their lives because of the actions of a few, actions that there are no repercussions for!!!!  

Duncan Ballard should still be here, writing and singing his songs.  Putting smiles on people’s faces, and in their hearts.  Instead, some mean-spirited, perhaps even hateful kids chose him to pick on, to exercise their own low self-esteem on.  They pushed him to the end of his young rope.  Worse, there will be no consequences for their actions.  Count on it.  And, before you naysayers chime in with the “nobody-made-him-end-his-life; he-chose-to-do-that” rhetoric, save it for some of the parents of some of these young suicide victims where bullying was involved.  I’m certain they’d have a thing or two to say to you about it.

Rest in peace, Duncan.  I sure wish I could’ve heard some of your music.

********************SUICIDE IS NEVER THE ANSWER!!!  TALK TO SOMEONE!!!********************




ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: the blog page


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******************************





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******************************




Zachary Golding, 15, Bullycide in New York

with 8 comments

Zack Golding was a varsity football player, played baseball and football.  He was very active in his church’s youth group.  He enjoyed camping, fishing, target shooting, and meeting new people.  And, according to his sister on the memorial page set up for him on facebook, he was also bullied.There’s been no mention as to why Zack may have been bullied.  The “why” shouldn’t even matter, though.  What matters is that one more young person has dealt with being bullied to the point where they felt the only way out was to end their life.  What is it going to take to reverse this deadly trend?

All of the answers are right there in front of us.  We understand that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed from the top, down.  It starts with the adults.  More importantly, it starts with the parents.  At the same time, it’s also obvious that re-educating young people is something that also needs to be done.  One top of that, we know that there’s an incredible lack of accountability and responsibility on the part of school officials in cases of bullying, and THAT needs to be addressed.  And, it’s apparent that some level of….the list is ridiculously endless.  What we’re missing is a solution.  A way to end this madness.

A friend of Zachary’s wrote of when they were schoolmates up until 5th grade and how his father had also taken his own life.  That’s a lot of trauma for a 10-year-old boy to have to carry around.  I can’t say whether that event lead to the depression that he struggled from or if it just served to make an already tough situation worse.  Either way, in the end, it appears that the lethal combination of depression and bullying proved too much for Zack Golding to handle.

On Thursday, October 25th, Zachary Golding reached the point of no return.  He succumbed to whatever it was he found so torturous in his brief 15 years.  On Thursday, October 25th, yet another teen in distress reminded us, the adults, that not enough is being done to prevent this from happening.  Not nearly enough.  I’ve even personally heard the remark that “it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who does that to themselves.”  Are you kidding me?  These are teenagers!!!  Judgments are certainly not what’s needed here:  solutions are.  If you look around you, yes even right in your own backyards, you will undoubtedly see a young person who is struggling with something.  It could be depression, being bullied, being abused…full palate.  The question must be, at this point, “what are you doing to intervene?”  What are you doing to give that young person the strength they need to try one more day?  What role are you playing in trying to make this epidemic end?  If you spend just an hour or so perusing sites such as tumblr, you should be alarmed by the things that are being posted, right there for the world to see, by teenagers!!!  Think about the Amanda Todd video.  They are screaming for help but, sadly, in far-too-many cases, their screams are falling upon deaf ears.  And, as a result, the bullying/teen suicide epidemic shows no sign of slowing down in the near future.  Translation:  we are failing, miserably, at saving these young people’s lives.  That means that we all need to step up even more in our efforts.  When you think you’re “doing your part”, do more.

Hopefully, you’re resting peacefully, now, Zachary.

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




ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: the blog page


Desa Bane, 15, Death by Suicide

with 3 comments

I was sent a haunting video tonight, made by one of Desa’s friends, chronicling her short life and wishing her farewell.  When I received the emailed video, I was still in the process of writing the previous blog post, about yet another young suicide victim.  For those who don’t understand, yet, we are in a crisis!!   This is an epidemic.

The video opens with a blackened screen and the written words:

Desa Bane was a beautiful girl.  Desa was the kind of girl who stepped up to solve your problems but kept her own to herself.  Desa was bullied by jealous girls who thought they were better.  Desa also had epilepsy.

Rest in Paradise, Des.  We love you.


I’m certainly have no idea, at this point, how accurate or inaccurate the claim of being bullied is.  What I do know is that there is yet another young person whose family and friends are dealing with some of the worst pain they’ll ever have to endure.

What’s important, from my point-of-view, is that the number of teen suicides is growing daily, but rather than being able to hear about actions being down to address the epidemic on my car radio, I’m hearing about a medical outbreak that’s taking people’s lives.  I’m not minimizing the loss of life in that case by any stretch of the imagination.  And, to be sure, the pain that their families are feeling is every bit as real as the pain felt by the families and friends of these young suicide victims.  I get that.  My problem with this picture is that these teen suicides are

  • being kept relatively secret
  • not being given the urgency they need and deserve
  • being treated as if there’s a stigma attached

There’s no stigma attached:  there’s an epidemic in full-bloom that’s screaming to be addressed.  The issue of bullying, cyberbullying, and teen suicide needs to come out of the shadows, stopped being whispered about, and given the full, center-stage, blaring-spotlight attention it’s going to take to make it go away.  Waiting for someone else to step up and lead the charge isn’t the answer, either.  That’s seemingly what we’ve been doing all along, and we see almost daily how effective that’s been.

Here’s the deal:  Today is October 22nd, 2012.  It is 100% impossible for there to be a living, breathing human being, with even minimal comprehension level or intelligence, to not know that bullying is a crisis amongst today’s youth.  It’s contributing mightily to the teen suicide rate.  Parents know it.  Teachers know it.  School administrators know it.  And, the kids, themselves, know it!!  Therefore, with everyone knowing that we’re in crisis mode with the continued bullying and teen suicides, it wouldn’t take much of a leap to get the impression that there’s a general apathy towards the whole situation.  There are kids who still think it’s cool or funny to bully others in their peer group.  As we witnessed in the aftermath of Amanda Todd’s tragic suicide, even after the victim is dead, these heartless young people still find it cool or funny to continue their bullying.  They continue bullying at schools and online as if the last suicide didn’t matter to them at all.

On the other side of that same coin, we simply must figure out a way to convey to these young people who it is absolutely okay for them to find someone to talk to about their problems…whatever they may be.  In fact, it’s essential.  It could save their lives.  “Desa was the kind of girl who stepped up to solve your problems but kept her own to herself.”  Even if it’s only an online-type service, there is ALWAYS someone ready and willing to listen…and, help:

Obviously, there are even more resources available.  It’s beyond time we stop passively talking about how bad this epidemic is and start actively doing something about it.  This isn’t going to go away by itself.  It won’t go away if we collectively wait for someone else to be the one to step up.

To you, Desa Bane, may you now find peace.  To the family and friends of Desa, we send our deepest sympathy and support.