Bullied Teenager Takes Own Life in Tennessee

Comments

1
"Maybe this time someone will face malicious harassment charges"

In Tennessee? Dude, you're dreaming. In TN they're likely to give the bully's a medal. I dream of a day that calling someone a fag is no longer considered an insult. Maybe by the time I have kids...
2
This makes me so angry! With the school, the bullies, other kids who did nothing. But that Jacob wasn't taught to fight back, that makes me angriest of all. Fight bullies! Fight back! Don't give up! Fight back!
4
@2 Give them little cameras they can hide and film their tormentors and post on YouTube.
5
#3 You are an ass! is that clear enough for your simple brain?
6
@2 I've actually been thinking about the idea of what the world would be like if everyone made it a cultural staple of upbringing to teach their kids, starting today, to always stand up for the little guy and against bullies. Even if that means telling your 12 year old, "If you see someone beating up on a littler kid, someone less powerful, someone in trouble, or someone different -- stand up for them. If that means socking someone in the face to stop the harm as a least measure, sock them in the face."

Yes, this a naive Steve Rogers-esque viewpoint, but seriously... what would the world be like?
9
@7 maybe you don't care if straight kids get bullied. We do.
10
Tennessee is the "Don't Say Gay" State.
11
@9 @5

Please stop feeding the obvious trolls.
12
Heartbreaking.

@ Joe,

You find you get called in the office, at least we did during the elementary years. Now in middle school and having reached the 6 foot range, not so much. I'm guessing it is because A) having someone taller than you tell you to knock it off is powerful, and B) because our district now publically states that it "recognizes the diversity and worth of all individuals and groups." And, that "there will be no discrimination or harassment of individuals or groups based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, marital status, age, veterans' status, genetic information or disability in any educational programs, activities or employment." Bullying still goes on, though. But the empowerment to stand up to it is much greater now. Often the bullying individual finds that their actions puts them on the outside with their peers, or so our children tell us.

I wish that was the case everywhere.

And it certainly doesn't hurt to tell your kids that you support their defending their peers and will have their backs when called in to see the principle.
14
@12 wow, I'm curious, with a kid on the way. You guys yourselves were called into a school meeting because your children stood up to bullies? Did they use force to do it?

I'm inclined to think that if I ever had a situation where my kid punches out another kid to stop a bully if a teacher or staff was unwilling to do something that I'd take the boy out in the yard when we got home, hand him a beer, and say, "I'm proud of you, son."
15
Why are people not picketing these school's? If this happened in Seattle I would be picketing and screaming outside this school. Teach kids to fight back. Picket this goddamned school!!!
16
How many more kids have to do this? What is the answer? So much attention is being focused on the problem and the causes. What is really happening? Supposedly the public is more aware, they are more outraged, experts constantly throw it around, politicians speak, celebrities too. But more kids are killing themselves, its going from bad to worse. The attacks seem to be more freqent and intense. The word bullying isn't strong enough to describe it. Being singled out, picked on, tormented, beaten up, or otherwise hurt and injured isn't character building, its deadly. This is sick. Fix it already.
18
Great cause, Dan, but you should read the latest news about PayPal and Regretsy and the misuse of the Donate button. Your shit can get fucked up if you're not a 503c and using the Donate button.
19
Dear Bigots,

Go fuck yourselves. I'm so angry I'm trying to stop myself breaking something. Just understand one thing - the ultimate guilt here does not lie with the bullies themselves. Oh, they're guilty alright, and would get theirs in a just world. But they don't control the situation. If any responsible adult took a stand they'd have to back off. Instead, this child and thousands like him have turned to their authority figures and found nothing but indifference or worse, and so another mother buries her child. This isn't part of growing up. This isn't boys being boys. This is evil. We must call it what it is.

I repeat: go fuck yourselves. Go away. Go learn how to be a human being. Above all, just go.
20
Done. Thank you for setting up the means to contribute with the Stranger administering the collection. Very nice.
21
@ Joe,

It was winter and he wanted hot cocoa with lots of whipped cream. He got just that and many high fives.

And, yes called to the office. With the youngest it was because he pushed back. As he described it he stepped in between and so he was the one that was struck. Being much taller than his peers he was not really hurt. The intended victim of the bully, was
"guilty" of being Southeast Asian. You'll learn that
schools are busy places with lots of standardized tests to perform and thus keeping the peace is the focus, and it is mediate everything. You'll find, or at least we did, that to make peace they want everyone to share the blame. They want the victim to find a way to justify the bully's reason for being abusive and a reason to share the blame. We find this unacceptable. There is
always a reason for someone to choose to act abusively, but reasons are not justifications. Making everyone guilty does not generate peace and a good learning enviornment, in our opinion. We refused to
allow our children to participate in these mediation sessions. In that meeting we commended him for standing up in defense of his classmate. We assured him that he could expect nothing but praise from us. With our eldest, a girl, there was never any physical violence. Being wired for words she uses them instead and CCs all the way up the chain. Having been a victim, she knows how it feels and that not everyone has parents that will have their back.

Congratulations! I hope the arc of justice will have bent noticeably closer when it comes time to enter school for your child.
22
Thank you for the opportunity to help lay him to rest.
23
(And @18, thanks for referring to that. I looked around and found it was a fascinating story of Paypal acting tough, backpedaling, acting like it had fixed something it hadn't yet, then finally coming clean. And it was triggered when Regretsy so quickly went over its stated goal, just as Dan expects to here. Fingers crossed Paypal has learned its lesson. Here's the best summary I found of what happened:
http://digitallife.today.msnbc.msn.com/_…)
24
I remember feeling like this kid. Hell, I remember waking up handcuffed to a hospital bed after downing a few bottles of Asprin and most of a bottle of tequila. I remember.

I also remember taking the gloves off and getting back in the ring with the bullies of my high school after my recovery. I was alive and I wasn't going back to that hospital bed ever again. I even remember the first (and only) "bully" who called me a faggot in the halls after my return. I glared up at him and told him if he ever called me that again, he'd do it with his severed nuts in his mouth. I found out later he was actually afraid of ME afterwards. He was nearly a foot taller than me and outweighed me by a good 50lbs.

Stop being bullied, and fight the fuck back.
25
I hope my little donation helps. It's been a bad year for kids, and I hope it gets better soon.

Please please more help and support for teachers to actually be able to do something about bullying. I'm a former teacher and I can tell you that it's not easy to actually see what's going on when kids are bullied. If the kids report it and you pass it up the chain, often nothing gets done by the higher ups.

It really is time to start treating these cases as the criminal harassment that they are.
26
Donation sent. Fuck the human garbage that made it necessary.
27
I'm so heartbroken hearing about this ALL THE FUCKING TIME! Make it stop!! I'm sending a SMALL donation (I'm not rich, 'specially not this time of year). Hope the paypal thing gets sorted out.
28
I donated and also alerted my Reddit Atheists who have been extremely donate-happy lately. They have something to prove, so I'm pretty sure they will come through.
30
Very heart breaking and so senseless. What in the hell is wrong with people? This crap has to be stopped, some way, some how, now!

I second Kim, thank you for the opportunity to help lay him to rest.

Rest In Peace, kiddo
31
I donate not just to provide a decent burial for this poor boy but to let others like him know that there are places in this world where people will love them and people will care. Fight back, sure, but when you are able GET THE HELL OUT OF TENNESSEE. In the long run they will miss your talents more than you miss their abuse.
32
Unfortunately, there is a case in Nutley, NJ that did not get much attention. It is not clear what exactly happened, but I have heard rumors that it had to do with parental problems or bullying at school. The president of the GSA reportedly hung herself. A google search turned up that she appears to have been a very active, outgoing kid, involved in supporting the troops, library activities, etc.
33
This war on bullying shall not end in our lifetime.
34
I live in TN in the same county where this boy is from. I am a parent, and my daughter went to school with this young man. There is an account set up at the Bank of America in Ashland City, TN for his funeral expenses. It is a sad day for the entire community here, and I agree with so many of the posts from above, but it is NOT JUST IN TENNESSEE. This is not only a problem within one community, this is a GLOBAL problem that must be erased. We all need to show tolerance, compassion, and love to our fellow brothers and sisters, no matter what their sexual orientation is. I know that his family and friends appreciate your help. Thank you.
35
I was bullied in the rural Colorado public school I attended for a few years. Not gay, but called 'faggot' and 'homo' for being smallish and smart. I got pushed around quite a bit, and every time I reached the end of my fuse and fought back, my bully and I were punished equally. No punishment ever for the bullying.
On the rare plus side, one of the bullies, who was much larger and stronger than I was, resorted to telling everyone in school that I had beat him with a broom handle. It was that or explaining how the skinny little egghead faggot had left him with so much battle damage without getting hurt himself. And, of course, we both got suspended. And the bullying was never punished.
I had a berserk mode that allowed me to fight back occasionally. Not everyone can do that, and no one should have to.
I would put myself somewhere in the middle of the School as Living Hell continuum, and life was a constant, gut-wrenching bath of stress hormones. These kids are out at the Undiluted Fresh Hell end of the continuum, without any support group and without any ability to fight back, and I'm amazed that they hold out as well as they do.
36
This poor kid. :-(
37
Kids all have cameras on their phones now, right? Video recorders too. Parents of non-bullying-but-looking-on-helplessly kids should encourage them to record what they see and show it to them. The parents should then notify the school that they have evidence of what's happening, and what are they gonna do about it?
38
Bullying needs to stop. We all agree. No one seems to know what will actually make it happen. In the meantime it might be helpful to help kids avoid being victims in the first place. I'm not suggesting that they should hide. Not at all. But maybe they could use some help and mentoring from a special group of people. I'm wondering if the very accomplished, brave and intelligent LGBT men and women of our military who now have the ability to be themselves would consider this. Maybe teaching self defense. Giving talks at the schools. Whatever they would be willing to contribute and think would make a difference. Just making their presence known and making time available for these vulnerable kids. Many of us never had role models. Here are some of the finest people who risk their lives for us every day. I'll bet there's a lot to learn here. Maybe it would send a strong message to the bullies. Here's hoping one idea leads to another better one.
39
@38: re: teaching self-defense. I think that's a huge point. Depending on what it is, it can give self-esteem and body awareness, and it takes some of the 'magic' away from the bully, who is usually bigger and stronger and riding a PR wave of invincibility.
More than anything, the attitudes of administrators, teachers and parents need to change. In my experience, which is limited, few of the (male) administrators, gym teachers, coaches, etc. had been the kind of boys who got bullied. They naturally were not attuned to the issue from the victim's perspective.
Has anyone every known a bully who grew up in a loving, supportive, non-violent household? Not a rhetorical question. I'm curious. Looking back, I have the sense that the bullies I knew were brutalized at home.
40
WTF?

They didn't even have enough money for a funeral?

I think bulling in school was least of his problems...
41
@40 a funeral is thousands of dollars at least. How many people in today's USA can just cough up $5,000 to $6,000 in 24-48 hours?
42
Funeral is wasting money on nothing, literally.
Nothing could be more wasteful. It's one of those cultural things we all know is idiotic but pretend it isn't.

Just imagine what could be done with all the money for funerals in the world. Entire space program could be financed.
43
None of you understand this was my school he isn't the first friend I lost bc of the school. brittney was also another one. she was in the office the day she killed her self they let her go home knowing that she was having suicidal thoughts. Jacob went to the office many of times and nothing ever happen. then the school lied and said they only know of one time he came to the office. I disagree I've seen him in there more than once. I will never let my kids go to cheatham county schools. I went through way to much i wouldn't want my kids to go through that.
45
I just want to personally say THANK YOU SO MUCH for the donations! I was a friend of Jacob's and went to school with him. It is sad that his life had to end like this, but we are determined to make a case about this and get our school system in check. They said that there was only ONE report on file from him when he was in the guidance office every other day almost! Investigators are going to check the records and if they find anything else besides the one stated I am sure action will be taken. Once again, thank you to everyone who has been supporting the cause. It means a LOT!
46
Dayum shame. My condolences to all feeling his loss.
47
You guys got $9000 in nine hours?!
48
@39 I was bullied incessantly all the way through school and I grew up in a loving, supportive, healthy family. I don't even know why they picked me. They just did, and they made my life a living hell and I came to think that maybe if I was thinner (I was never fat, I was an athletic kid) I would be prettier and they would like me more. So I joined the cross country team and stopped eating and ended up in hospital being treated for anorexia.
I think that people focus too much on what the victim does to bring on the bullies. I think that some people just ache to make someone feel littler than them.
49
Just an update, Jacob's funeral will be held this Saturday because of all the donations made by friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers! He will get the proper goodbye thanks to everyone that shared this story and/or donated! ... So amazing!
50
I don't think fighting back is always an option. I'm not even sure it's an option very often at all. Why put the burden on the bullied person? What if he or she is a peace-loving kid...what if they're being ganged up on...what if the bullying isn't physical at all?

The way to fight bullying is with the law. It is the responsibility and the capability of the adults in a school to put a stop to bullying. I live in Vermont, where it is ILLEGAL for a school to fail to stop bullying. I'm not saying bullying never happens in my state (quite the contrary), but when it does happen, and when the adults learn about it, they either put an end to it or face a lawsuit. In my experience teaching here, bullying that came to the attention of adults was stopped. We were able to stand behind our warnings to bullies that we would suspend or expel them, or call the police, if the bullying didn't stop immediately. That was that. It's the responsibility of the adults.

Trickier is when it happens off-campus, cyber-bullying, etc.
51
Can we all finally come to the reality that words - regardless of who they come from - can and do hurt people, especially young people. This has to stop. I'm glad some of the money is going to suicide prevention organizations. What else as a community can we do?
53
Happy to hear from the Vermont teacher about the law against bullying-how can we get these laws
In all 50 states? Also, cops should probably be called immediately, and it is likely true that bullies home lives need to be investigated. In the mean time, every adult needs to stand the fuck up--teachers, parents of random kids, get in the face of the bullies, yes YouTube or post everything online. But also, where can kids turn to get the fuck out? Anything is better than suicide--yes fighting back including violence, yes dropping out of school, and yes running the fuck away. Where is the safe haven for these kids? Especially GLBT kids? Where can they just get
54
I was a witness to a bully for days in my middle school. Not sure how long it went on. The moment she came after me I snapped. I chased her halfway around the school, yelling words I had never heard myself say before. It was so wonderful to see her turn tail like that so quickly. she immediately went to the principal, who took me in. I had a 4.0 at the time and had never been in trouble, but she had. They took my side. It was one of the best experiences of my life, because I had been such a shy person.
55
@1 and 10. First of all you don't need to say TN is a don't say gay state. Some of it may be but don't group us all together. And second the giving the bullies a medal remark is stupid! Obviously we care enough to stand against it. If it wasn't for all the hard work by Jacobs friends and family he probably would have only gotten an obituary in the Ashland City times. But we all took a stand and made this know! So you may want to think again before grouping all Tennesseeans together saying we would give the bullies a medal.
56
Dan, thank you for doing this. Burying a family member is the last chance we have when someone dies to do something for them, as any of us who have gone through it knows. And we weren't made to bury our children.
I hope the money going to the LGBT organizations help with stopping this bullying. ALL children are precious, no matter their orientation.
You have such humanity and kindness of spirit. I hope more and more people start listening to you.
57
As a person who used to be bullied in middle school, I wanted to make a difference in someone's life. Therefore I created a petition asking President Obama to actively campaign and lobby Congress to pass the Student Non Discrimina­­tion Act and Safe Schools Improvemen­­t Act, which would help to prevent bullying in public schools, especially among LGBT teens. The only way to sign this petition is to click on the url link below, until the signature threshold reaches 150 signatures­­, then it will become visible on the "We the People" petition page. You will also need to create an account once you get to this site in order to sign. This petition will ultimately need 25000 signatures by December 23, in order for the White House to issue an official response. Also clicking on the link will NOT AUTOMATICA­LLY SIGN THE PETITION. If anyone needs help creating an account or has trouble signing, don't hesitate to facebook message me (Brendan Peabody). Also please spread the word about this petition to your family and friends. I have 59 signatures and need 91 more for this petition to become visible to other users on the White House's petition page. This petition is too important to fail. Thanks for all the support. Spread the word to all your family and friends about this petition. Finally, can anyone help me spread the word about this petition, as signatures are coming in way too slowly?
Here is the link:

https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/…
58
I am re-posting my last comment, due to the fact, that my full link was not successfully added to my previous entry, sorry for the repetition.

As a person who used to be bullied in middle school, I wanted to make a difference in someone's life. Therefore I created a petition asking President Obama to actively campaign and lobby Congress to pass the Student Non Discrimina­­tion Act and Safe Schools Improvemen­­t Act, which would help to prevent bullying in public schools, especially among LGBT teens. The only way to sign this petition is to click on the url link below, until the signature threshold reaches 150 signatures­­, then it will become visible on the "We the People" petition page. You will also need to create an account once you get to this site in order to sign. This petition will ultimately need 25000 signatures by December 23, in order for the White House to issue an official response. Also clicking on the link will NOT AUTOMATICA­LLY SIGN THE PETITION. If anyone needs help creating an account or has trouble signing, don't hesitate to facebook message me (Brendan Peabody). Also please spread the word about this petition to your family and friends. I have 59 signatures and need 91 more for this petition to become visible to other users on the White House's petition page. This petition is too important to fail. Thanks for all the support. Spread the word to all your family and friends about this petition. Finally, can anyone help me spread the word about this petition, as signatures are coming in way too slowly?
Here is the link:

http://wh.gov/jdU
59
To any social workers out there how about getting into the schools to do informal outreach? Maybe from local community non-profits (that don't proselytize) During lunch periods and study periods when the students are available. You could be a visible extra buffer just to be there for them to talk to, let them know someone cares, do some intervention and conflict resolution. Teens need this kind of stuff anyway because being a teen by itself is hard. Young professionals close to the students age who can relate, gain their trust and respect and help diffuse a powerkeg. I went to a public HS and we had them. Sometimes I had lunch with them just to shoot the shit, but I know others who had problems with other kids and they helped. They were laid back, non-threatening, and blended in. They also had the ear of the facutly and administration. Tough anti-bullying laws and enlightened school policies are needed but that takes a long time. Laws are also abstract and kick in only after dammage is done. A live caring person might be able to step in before another tragedy.
60
Where's the money really going??? Do not use a tragedy for your own gain. Still waiting to hear if the funeral is truly being paid for by these guys. I will keep you posted. By the way if you really want to help the family contact the funeral home directly- Cheatam County Funeral Home!!!
62
@48, I appreciate hearing your story--it's valuable to hear from people who were bullied, to understand how it shaped their lives, both in school and in some cases, for years to come. Probably it's also important for many people who were bullied to speak out, both to be able to tell their own story and to help the drive to stamp out bullying.

I say this because I don't want anyone to think that I'm wanting to silence you when nothing could be further from the truth. However, #39 was asking about the *bullies*, and whether their homes were safe, loving and supportive.

Possibly our efforts to stop bullying need two prongs: Punishment when it occurs, and prevention, which can take several forms.
63
I got a certain amount of bullying in elementary school over being deaf. It stopped in middle school (which also happened to be when I changed school districts due to moving). It isn't about what the bullied kid does, it's about what the bullies do, and adults need to step in and say that it's unacceptable. Every last adult who ever saw the bullying either looked away or told me to stand up to it (which wasn't really an option for me, because half the time the bullying would consist of the kids saying all kinds of things behind me and me not being aware of it until everyone around me was laughing at me).

So there is that.
64
@63: Seriously?
That shit is explicitly banned in the Bible, no ambiguity. "Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but thou shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD." (Leviticus 19:14)
Kids are jerks, and this is a case where a little Bible study would be something that everyone would approve of.
65
I don't know. I really feel for bullied kids, and was one myself at various times. But it seems like bullying is a natural development stage for groups of young animals. Have you ever seen a litter of kittens pick on the runt? It's heart wrenching and rough, and as adults we should do everything we can to limit the brutality, diminish the relationship between minority groups and negative feelings, and reassure everyone that we outgrow this bestial stage and then things get better for almost everyone. But we can't completely stop our animal tendencies (thus Savage Love).
66
*sigh* This needs to stop. Sick to my stomach for his family and friends. And for all the other kids in his position who are still suffering and hanging on, day by day. If a flood of supportive videos and constant referrals to resources can't save these kids, what will? Please, make it stop.
67
I live in this area-cheatham county Tennessee-the ACLU is familiar with the schools here-if you aren't white straight and Christian-forget about it. the graduation rate has been dropping like a stone-the schools are not the kind of environment you want your kid in-unless they fit the mold. So that 20% that doesn't-they bail as soon as they can. I know for a fact that people employed by this county have expressed anti gay sentiments in the classroom and encouraged it in students.
68
Coming from a tiny hippy Waldorf based charter middle school in Eugene OR meant that I really had no understanding of bullying outside of TV. Going to HS and seeing how people treated each other in the mainstream system was a major system shock. While I was never the target of bullying being 6' 2" and 190 pounds by my freshmen year, seeing people treat others that way was totally sickening. I can safely say that bullying is not a natural occurring phenomena, it is something that gets trained into people by a highly toxic extremist, masculinity-obsessed, violent culture. You want to end bullying get "team sports" out of schools, they are the biggest enforcers of Americas sick sick culture.
69
I don't understand how this is Dan's fault. Seattleblues, can you help me out?
70
Hey Dan, here's a thought... instead of pocketing the extra $4K that was donated to the family, give it to them and suggest they create a scholarship for bullied teens or something like that. If the community raised $9K for the FAMILY, it should go to them and not be split regardless of whether or not "more than enough" was raised. People were donating to them, not to your project (regardless of the merits of it).
71
@65 things should not get better for everyone, the bullies should have consequences later in life.