My wife and I attended the Vigil for the young man from Greenwood Lakes Middle School in Lake Mary, Florida who committed suicide because of bullying. We didn’t know him we went as both parents and community activists. Suicide is such a tragedy and one that is largely preventable if people to more time to talk and listen to others. More about that later. I’ve included some resources at the bottom of the page on Bullying and Suicide, I will be adding more but I wanted to get this information out quickly to those who may need it.
Here are a few videos I took at the vigil.
Here are some local news stations coverage
I didn’t know Lamar, I went because I have school age children and felt compelled to show solidarity and compassion at a time when the community was hurting. The vigil happening a day after the young man died and I was glad to see hundreds of people turn out. The event started with everyone holding hands and praying. Considering I had no connection to this young man I was surprised to find myself crying several times at the vigil. Many of students spoke about Lamar in front of media cameras. Community leaders spoke to the students on the tragedy emphasizing the absolute necessity to speak up each and every time that bullying is encountered reinforcing that if they don’t get help from teachers to go to THEIR bosses. They also spoke to parents about how crucial it is to know if their kids are bullying or being bullied. Bullying is NEVER acceptable. The attendees also sang uplifting songs (see videos) There was some tension apparently causing a splintering of the vigil which seemed uncalled for at a time where everyone should be pulling together friends and well wishers alike. In hindsight, with longer planning time, this could have been avoided.
At the end of the roadside part of the vigil, students released balloons into the evening sky. The vigil largely disbanded at this point, a with the exception of maybe 60 or more of the students holding a separate candlelight vigil beside the school itself.
To the ADULTS:
I really hate bullying. I hated it as a kid growing up and I hate it even more now, as a parent. I can’t bear to think of my kids having to go through what I went through. What troubles me even more about kids being bullied now is how much it has changed since I was a kid, but the educators are still approaching bullying as it was in the 1970’s. BULLYING HAS CHANGED. Bullying is no longer JUST getting into fights are calling names, it is so much more. Social media is a HUGE part of the problem, some might say the biggest part. Fights are invented PURELY to be posted to YouTube. The name calling and rumors that spread when parent were kids are taken to epic proportions when they are started and spread by Facebook or texts or one of a myriad of other social media applications. From my own experiences with my high school aged child the viciousness of the words used by fellow students is appalling, they seem to be bolstered by an apparent sense of anonymity (which is ridiculous considering the kids name or at least ip address appears in the posts) We as parents often have little knowledge of this kind of pressure our youngsters face daily. BUT WE HAVE TO. As I said before Bullying has changed. We have to be more involved in our children’s lives to keep them safe. CDC figures have stated that 1 in 6 high school students has seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 has attempted it LINK Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. (2010 CDC WISQARS) Each day in our nation there are an average of over 5,400 attempts by young people grades 7-12
If it seems like an intrusion, if the kids don’t like it, oh well, isn’t that better than a DEAD KID?
The incidence of suicide amongst males is much higher than those of females. Girls/women generally talk more about how they feel to their friends etc, so please talk to your male children. Is talking to your son not manly? Is going to their funeral manly?
Don’t let your child be 1 in 5,400, 1 in 12 or 1 in 6
The bullying game has changed and how it is tackled HAS to change for Parents and Educators and Kids alike. Parents, aside from REALLY communicating , often, with you children asking about them and their friends, getting involved with them you need to take action EVERY time your child mentions BULLYING, whether it is your child or another parents child. We have a responsibility to talk to teachers, demand action is taken. THEY WORK FOR US. WE PAY THEIR WAGES. If you don’t get action from Teachers go to the principal or guidance counselors, if they do nothing go to the school board.
In your Community why not host a meeting to discuss bullying you could screen the documentary BULLY too details here
To Young People:
You are loved, you are valued and there are people who have your back!
It may not seem like it some times but there are people you can talk to on the phone, online or face to face. I’ve included a bunch of links to people you can turn to both locally in the Central Florida area, and Nationally
I’m sure you have heard the bullying talks at school. What did you think? If you
have experienced bullying or witnessed it what did you do about it and why? If you did nothing, then maybe that Bullying talk was ineffective.
BE THE CHANGE. If you feel strongly enough about bullying, start or join a support group. Take some like minded friends and talk to your teachers about what needs to be added to Bullying training.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before but with CDC figures stating that 1 in 6 high school students has seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 has attempted it this cannot be ignored. Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. (2010 CDC WISQARS) Each day in our nation there are an average of over 5,400 attempts by young people grades 7-12
YOU MUST SPEAK UP
SPEAK UP for your friends, SPEAK UP for strangers and SPEAK UP for YOU. Talk to your Teachers, Guidance counselors,Parents, Guardians, relations, Pastors, Police officers, and friends. Bullying is DEADLY serious. If you came to this page as a friend of Lamar Hawkins I want to say how sorry I am for the loss of your friend and fellow student. It is personal for you. You are suffering, please make use of the resources of the school to talk about how you feel. It isn’t doesn’t make you any weaker for doing this and is important for your mental health. Mental health is often overlooked but is just as important as physical health. Talk to your parents abut how this incident has affected you. DO NOT keep it inside of you. Guys, this especially applies to you. The incidence of suicide amongst males is much higher than those of females. Girls/women generally talk more about how they feel to their friends etc. Whilst you may not feel comfortable talking to your friends about bullying or suicide at least seek out a support group or a helpful adult. Links to local and National support groups are at the bottom of the page.
Speakout Central Florida’s Anonymous Helpline for reporting Bullying of students
The STOMP Out Bullying™ HelpChat Line: Get Help with Bullying
Are you being or have you been bullied or cyberbullied?
Are you going through a rough time because of it?
You are not alone! We’re here to help!
The STOMP Out Bullying™ HelpChat Line is a confidential online chat that helps youth ages 13-24 with issues around bullying and cyberbullying; we also provide support to youth who may be at risk of suicide.
Support & Information
Bullying and Cyberbullying – http://www.stompoutbullying.org
If you or someone you know is on the verge of suicide PLEASE call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or go to the nearest hospital emergency room IMMEDIATELY so you can get help!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the GLBT National Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7743)
Trevor Helpline / Trevor Project
Suicide hotline for youth dealing with sexual identity.
‘American Foundation For Suicide Prevention’ database of support groups for those coping with the loss of a loved one – http://www.afsp.org/coping-with-suicide-loss/find-support/find-a-support-group
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