A boy died last week.
A 15 year-old boy died needlessly and now his parents are tormented with nightmares and what-if scenarios.
A boy died because people in his life, at his school, told him mean horrible things, bullied and harassed him endlessly.
A boy died because depression lied to him, told him he wasn't good enough, that he wasn't worth it. And he listened.
A boy died because..... God knows why.
That boy was Jose Valdez (Joey). This boy was a very good friend's God son. I'd met him a handful of times, saw his smiling face at birthday parties and barbeques. While I didn't know much about him, I'm heartbroken by his loss. His family and all of those people that loved him are left wondering why. And sadly there's no real answer. For whatever reason, he felt he he should take it upon himself not to be here anymore.
Way back when, I wrote a post about Amanda Todd, a girl I never knew who took her own life because the bullying was so bad she felt like escape was the only thing. But then I didn't do anything. Back in September at the start of the school year, Robbie Cox and bevy of other bloggers and authors did a Bloggers Against Bullies blog campaign and while I wanted to participate, I decided against it. I could give you several excuses, but none of them are worth listening to. But when that campaign rolls around next year, you can bet I will be participating, for Joey. For all of the upset, depressed kids who we've lost before or are on the verge of losing.
This can be prevented, and should. It starts with talking to your child, talking to every child about the very real harm that can be done by just a few snickering jokes, planned pranks, tiny shoves. It starts with listening to the harm being done, even if that child won't talk. We have to coax it out of them so they can get the help they need.
Sadly it's too late for Joey. But it's not too late to do something real and significant to help his family and friends. His friends (especially his God-mother and dear friend Maria Lizeth Martinez) are trying to raise money for the funeral costs. Got a few dollars to spare? Please go to Joey's GofundMe page and contribute.Want a t-shirt so people see the face and remember the name and know how much more work their is to be done to save kids like Joey? Buy a T-shirt. In Northern California? Well there's several fundraisers you can attend. Just check Maria's facebook page for details.
Can't contribute monetarily? Signal boost. Post it on your facebook walls, post it on twitter, hit all the social media websites. Get people to listen. Make them understand. Take it to our school boards and see if we can't shore up anti-bullying policies and education. Take it to our local and state government, let's go national. It has to stop. Wouldn't it be an incredible legacy if somehow we made it stop with Joey?