A lot of you cared, just not enough. ― Jay Asher
This week, we saw another child, thirteen-year-old Daniel Fitzpatrick, take his own life, leaving a note telling of all the bullying he endured and how he just couldn’t go on. He tied a belt around his neck and hung himself in his New York town.
We feel pain and sorry for him and his family. How can this be happening? We ask ourselves this question over and over. We have so many bullying prevention programs and we are working so hard to prevent this from happening in the future. So why are so many young men and women taking their own lives due to bullying? I’ll let Daniel speak his final words to us all:
I wonder if this letter upsets you like it does me. The truth is we have a long road ahead of us. That is not something we should shy away from. The torture and pain these young men and women feel is real. There are approximately 4,400 deaths every year by suicide of young people. How many of these are due to bullying is still a question, but the likelihood that a young person takes their own life goes up dramatically if they are bullied.
I’m sorry to say this, but all the anti-bullying programs in the world will not stop all bullying. It is just part of the nature of children and adults. Abuse, bullying, physical and mental assault, whatever you choose to call it, the damage gets done. There is not a week that goes by without several high profile bullying stories in the news.
So, let’s return to bullying recovery. That is my mission. It is not one of bullying prevention. I just don’t believe we can rightfully say we can eradicate all bullying. I’m not even so sure we can eradicate some of it. But what I do know is that we can try to help those bullied and bullies to recover from the damage done and lead more productive lives. I have my own thoughts on how we may go about this that I will continue to share.
It’s easy to feel sadness over the actions of the bully victim, like Daniel Fitzpatrick. But that won’t bring him back and it won’t stop childhood bullying. I’m afraid we need to handle it from a psychological point of view, where we can develop better recovery programs. I know many in the anti-bullying movement may not agree with me and I accept that. I think there is a place for all of us that want to help with the bullying problem. I am trying to be a realist and recovery, to me, is just a better answer. I am not sure how yet, but we know that PTSD and long-term effects can be treated if addressed.
Might it have saved Daniel if the right people intervened? That still remains to be studied. For now, our answers must come in the form of wanting to make a real change. That doesn’t mean check the box training at schools, but real programs that teach others how to deal with these victims and their bullies. The day is coming and when it does, I believe we will begin the journey to true bullying recovery and not just prevention or reading more of these stories.