Father’s Story of Son’s Suicide Brings Home Tragedy of Bullying

Suicide is not a sign of weakness. It is the absolute rock bottom a human can reach. The point where life itself is too much to bear and the only thing that can ease the burden is death. I used to think people who committed suicide were weak. That was the stupidest, most insensitive and immature thing that has ever crossed my mind.  A bruise will heal because it is physical and the body will repair itself. The mind does not heal as fast as the body when a spirit is crushed. It takes a long time to repair. We are sensitive creatures. Admitting this is the first step to growing up.

On Oct. 29, John Halligan visited Hanover High School to share the story of his son Ryan, who committed suicide in October 2003 at the age of 13. Ryan took his life, his father told the audience of students from grades 5-9, because he was harassed and humiliated by classmates in his Vermont middle school. Ryan also could not escape from bullying online.

After Ryan’s death, his parents helped pass an anti-bullying law in Vermont. John Halligan travels across the country to tell his story in the hopes of helping other students and families deal with and prevent bullying.

Ryan Halligan’s death is a tragedy to us but for his family it is a lifetime of regret and agony. They face day after day of sorrow and anger because some people couldn’t keep their mouths shut. Imagine losing a loved because he was abused to the brink not by punches, but words. Not very appealing, is it?

Bullying another human is not alright. In fact, that is weakness. If you’re stronger, smarter, faster, or better than another human, use those gifts to help them and not taunt them over their imperfections. No one is a perfect being, no one. We are all cracked, beaten, torn up, and scarred either physically or mentally from what we have lived with, some more than others.  But the scars, cracks, bumps and bruises are what make us, and to make fun of a person incessantly because of the things that make them who they are is truly vile.

If you see someone getting bullied (but I’m happy to say we have a fairly kind school all around), stop it. I don’t care how and I don’t think the person who is being bullied cares how, just put an end to it. Do not let your mind interfere, you should know it’s right to help so don’t think about the consequences. Bystanders who do nothing are almost as bad as the people doing the bullying.

If you are ever bullied yourself, talk to someone for help: a guidance counselor, a parent, a friend. Don’t give into the feelings of worthlessness that a bully tries, whether physically or emotionally, to beat into you. Hell, tell me I’ll see what I can do.

We have fleeting time on this planet. A second becomes an hour, an hour a week, a week a year. We don’t have much time.  Be kind to each other, make people laugh not at the expense of others, and just don’t be a punk.

To learn more about Ryan or his father’s presentations, visit http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/

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