My hometown is imploding and it’s time things change

It’s been just under week since a horrible incident shook my hometown to its core: a 10-year-old died by suicide. From what I’ve seen on social media, she was bullied and this was the result.

My heart hurts. I feel like I have a rock in the pit of my stomach.

Ten. Years. Old. Can you even imagine? I remember being 10. Back then, I had sideburns (given to myself when my hair got curly and I didn’t know how to tame it) and I journaled about cartoons I loved. I was begging my mom to go to Chuck E. Cheese and begging for Barbie dolls. I’m not sure how I escaped bullying because it was definitely happening back then. Maybe it was a bit of naiveté or potentially the fact that I am an empath to a fault. I hate that I didn’t intervene more when I saw it happening.

Class of 4th graders from the 1980s

The fact that kids can get so bullied at 10 that this happens has destroyed me.

It hurts on so many levels. I think now, as a mom, it gives me extra pain. I’ve been holding my son as tight as possible the past few days, and I’ve tried with my daughter (she won’t let me).

And beyond that, it’s also happening in my hometown of 7,000 people. Last year it happened it was a 12-year-old who died by suicide after being bullied. How does this continue to happen in such a small community?

So what now?

Quite frankly, I’m angry. Something has to change. And I haven’t been able to just sit idly by. I’ve been in contact with professors at the University of Kansas who have experience implementing anti-bullying programs in Kansas. They are also devastated, but their advice? The community has to be on board. Nothing can change without the support of the community.

There’s a petition going, started by a student. Will it be enough? Probably not, but I would love it if you’d sign it anyway. We’re planning on starting a fundraising campaign, too: the town desperately needs more mental health resources. But I’m six hours away. What can I do? What can we do?

Do any of you have experience with helping pull a community out of this type of despair? People are attacking the school and its leadership on social media. They’re attacking each other. It feels like everywhere else in the world. Kids are dying and all anyone can do is scream at everyone else. It has to stop. How do we prevent suicide from happening?
So please, if you have advice, please speak up and help. I’m working on some initiatives. But it’s going to take a lot. Let’s talk about how to fix it.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. I want to help but don’t know where to begin. She was a baby.

  2. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know we need to do something. She was friends with my daughter, and she is devastated and heartbroken. Our community is devastated and heartbroken.

    1. I’m so sorry, Lauren. I can’t imagine how you’re talking to your daughter about it. I’m going to try to talk to my own daughter about it, and we don’t even know where to start. But please know I’m reaching out to community organizers to make change happen. I don’t want your daughter to ever have to go through something like this again. Sending love. XO

Leave a Reply