Suicide is Sad Side Effect of Teen Bullying

LAS VEGAS -- Suicide can be a tragic consequence of bullying. The obituary of one local teen who passed away in December read... "In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that awareness be brought to bullying and suicide."

There were 48 suicides involving children from 10 to 17 years old in Clark County from 2007 to 2012. More than one-third of them were attributed to school problems which can include bullying.

Race car driver Taylor Barton says he was born to race.

"This has been in my blood."

The Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix is his family's business and the Go-Karts helped take him all the way to NASCAR.

"I believe I went through all of what I did to be able to help people see the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

It wasn't an easy road.

"Sadness, darkness, self infliction," he said and he blames bullying.

"It was just overwhelming. It was too much and so you know, I did some things to myself to try to relieve the pain and so you know, I hit rock bottom."

Barton tried to take his own life.

"I don't like telling people I did that, but I also like being honest and real of what's going on and what kids are really doing and facing in schools."

Thanks to support from family and friends, he made it through that dark time and now he speaks out against bullying. So does Helen Melendez.

"Kids don't realize but words can hurt. Words can hurt. They penetrate through your heart and they hurt you. They become like thorns in your heart," said Helen Melendez.

She lost her 15-year-old daughter Claudia to suicide in 2010. She says the bullying got out of control.

"There are many things that go through your mind when you lose a child to suicide. But then you think, am I going to bring back my child? No. This is the reason why I took a different direction."

Melendez's daughter was one of a dozen 15 year olds who took their lives in Clark County from 2006 to 2012.

Taking a closer look at child deaths during that same time period show the age with the most suicides is 16. Eighteen of them took their lives. The youngest victim of child suicide during that time period was only 10 years old.

"We work with the school district on suicide prevention efforts on a regular basis. The school district has what's called SOS in place, which are signs of suicide. It's an educational component for middle school and high schools," said Rick Egan, Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention. "Bullying could be one of those factors that a youth or adult sees as one of those tragic events or crisis that they're going through and that may be one of the factors that brings them to the thoughts of suicide."

Looking back, Melendez believes she gave her daughter too much privacy and there were warning signs that she just didn't pick up on.

"If I can turn back the clock, that's what I would have done," she said.

While Melendez says the Clark County School District has stepped up efforts against bullying, she says there aren't enough counselors in schools, and she wants principals and parents to be more proactive.

Her daughter would have graduated high school last year.

"The pain just stays there until it comes to a point that you have a huge infection, they can't cope with it and this is what the outcome is when they do not speak out," Melendez said.

Students can anonymously report bullying on the school district website.

 


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