The recent suicide of 12-year-old Mallory Grossman has shocked and devastated not only Mallory’s family and her community but people like me from around the world. Her parents disclosed that their daughter died following months of being bullied by classmates both online and in person.
I was brokenheartedly watching the television, with tears streaming down my face, as Mallory’s parents courageously discussed the life and tragic death of their precious daughter.
Mallory was a dynamic, energetic, beautiful, young girl who loved cheerleading and gymnastics. She was also a great student with a boundless future ahead of her.
The Cyber Bullying of Mallory Grossman
In the fall of 2016, a group of girls began to prey on Mallory. Their taunting began with dirty looks and cruel texts calling her a loser, telling her she had no friends, and asking her to kill herself. This group then escalated to posts on Snapchat and Instagram as well.
I teach about the effects of stress on the mind and body. As a result of the tremendous stress caused by the constant bullying, Mallory’s grades began to fall and she began having physical problems such as stomach aches and other symptoms.
Mallory’s distraught parents made every attempt to talk to the parents of the bullies but their parents made excuses for their children and turned a blind eye to their reprehensible behavior. I believe the school has to garner some responsibility for their lack of intervention and not taking more disciplinary action.
Mallory took her innocent, short life on June 14, 2017. And her death is a tragic loss and a wake-up call for all of us.
Suicide in America
The suicide rates for adolescent boys and girls have been steadily rising since 2007, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The suicide rate for girls ages 15 to 19 doubled from 2007 to 2015, when it reached its highest point in 40 years, according to the CDC. The suicide rate for boys ages 15 to 19 increased by 30 percent over the same time period. The analysis looked at data from 1975 to 2015, the most recent year those statistics were available. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth 10-24 years old.
Suicide is a public health crisis. Last year, the CDC released a separate report that found that suicides for the U.S. population as a whole increased 24 percent over a 15-year period.
Mental health experts believe there are many reasons for teen mental health problems these days. Our young people spend a tremendous amount of time on social media. They are more detached from family and community influence these days. Social media causes them to constantly compare themselves to others, investing themselves in likes and dislikes, while exposing their personal information that opens them up to bullying. Heavy exposure to violence in our culture and family issues can lead to a spiraling into depression and anxiety.
Know the Warning Signs
According to the Jason Foundation, the warning signs of suicide include:
- Talking about suicide
- Making statements about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- A deepening depression
- Preoccupation with death
- Taking unnecessary risks or exhibiting self-destructive behavior
- Out of character behavior
- A loss of interest in the things one cares about
- Visiting or calling people one cares about
- Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order
- Giving prized possessions away
Know the Risk Factors
In addition to these warning signs, there are certain risk factors that can elevate the possibility of suicidal ideation. Those risk factors include:
- Perfectionist personalities
- Gay and lesbian youth
- Learning disabled youth
- Youth with low self-esteem
- Depressed youth
- Students in serious trouble
- Abused, molested or neglected youth
- Genetic predisposition
- Parental history of violence, substance abuse, or divorce
In conclusion, act immediately if someone you know shows any of these suicide signs. The loss of one more life is just too high of a cost for all of us.
A good resource is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.