Another Suicide Related to Bullying

I rarely watch the news when I’m at home. I don’t have a television, and I don’t watch news online. I read it online or in a newspaper. Receiving news via print is very different than the sensationalized news you’re fed in a 30-minute TV program. It’s incredibly depressing and leaves me feeling horribly sad. I’m currently visiting my parents and they watch the news. So, the other night, we watched the news about Aaron Alexis, the alleged Navy Yard shooter and Rebecca Ann Sedwick, the 12 year old, just shy of 13 who committed suicide as a result of bullying in school.

Both cases are examples of mental health issues falling through the cracks. 15 deaths that did not need to happen. As information comes out, Aaron pleaded for help, calling police at some point. He was hearing voices and was probably mentally ill. Why didn’t anyone advocate for him? Why didn’t anyone listen? Were there bystanders that could have stopped him? Supported him getting help?

And in Rebecca’s case… how many kids do we have to lose to depression as a result of bullying? We keep cutting mental health support in schools. But, we keep throwing money into raising test scores. Time on task. Reading, writing and math. Everything else is pushed aside. Teachers are tired. There is a lack of support. Teacher may have 42 students, 12 are on IEPs (special education plans), 10 speak English as a second language, 8 of the students go to bed hungry, 2 are homeless, 75% of them have been through their parents divorce, all are going through puberty and that teacher is expected to raise test scores. Oh- and report bullying behaviors… but to whom? The school counselor who is there once a week? The social worker that was cut last school year? The school psychologist who's caseload is full? What are we doing??? Who is going to shift our priorities to focusing on healthy school communities? Who is going to step up and say we need students to learn to their full potential and in order to do that we need safe school environments where the mental health of students and staff is supported? Arne Duncan- YOU are responsible. I challenge you to take the lead in creating these environments. It starts at the top. Change is hard. It takes time. But we need a national educational leader to institute change. NOW. Before we lose another beautiful child.

My thoughts are with Becca's family and loved ones.