EDITORIAL: Bullying cuts teens' lives short
We didn't really know Bryan Doll Jr.
Bryan was 14, an eighth-grader at Emory H. Markle Intermediate School. He played violin, drums and keyboard, and he loved to read.
And on Saturday, Feb. 3, he killed himself in his Hanover home.
Police are investigating whether bullying was one of the reasons why Bryan decided to cut his life so short.
Each year in this country, approximately 4,600 youths ages 10 to 24 kill themselves, making it the second-highest cause of death in that age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bryan was the second York County 14-year-old within a week to complete suicide, according to Cindy Richard, executive director and founder of Suicide Prevention of York.
As many as 16 percent of youths in that age range seriously contemplate suicide, and 157,000 are treated in emergency rooms each year for self-inflicted injuries, the CDC said.
The old adage is that suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem, but that's not something teenagers can really see, Richard said.
"They're in a moment and they're impulsive and they just don't know how to cope. ... They think their world is coming to an end," she said.
Bullying in the modern age can contribute to those feelings. Cyber bullying is a growing phenomenon, and it's more difficult to break away from than bullying in real life.
"It's in black and white, you can see it, everyone else can see it, it doesn't go away," Benjamin Shain, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, said on NPR. "You're not safe in your own house."
Less than two years ago, in May 2016, Shania Sechrist, a 15-year-old girl in York City, also committed suicide. Her father said she had been bullied, mostly through Facebook and texts, for months.
"A person can only take so much," Billy Sechrist, Shania's father, said at the time.
Richard, a certified suicide assessment interventionist, said one key to preventing teen suicide is that children need to know they can go to their parents or another adults to discuss suicidal feelings, bullying, depression and whatever is bothering them.
Richard said signs to watch for include: if a teen starts giving away prized possessions; withdraws from friends and social situations; doesn't want to go to school; gives up on extracurricular activities and hobbies; has increased anxiety or irritability; exhibits anger or hostility that is out of character for the teen; is sleeping significantly more or less than normal; or has a drop in grades.
Teens need to know that someone cares, more than anything else.
Help: If you or someone you are close to are having suicidal thoughts, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's website, suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Its toll-free hotline is 800-273-8255.
An online fundraiser to help defray funeral costs for Bryan's has raised more than $8,000 by Thursday. To donate, visit gofundme.com/bryan-doll-funeral-funds.
Memorial contributions in Bryan's name may be made to Olivia’s House, 101 Baltimore St, Hanover, PA 17331, according to his obituary. Olivia's House is a grief and loss center for children and youths.