Father Claims Bullying Played Role in Son's Suicide
CARTERVILLE -- A father is calling for action against bullying after his teen son committed suicide.
The 15-year-old Carterville High School sophomore killed himself Thursday. The Williamson County Sheriff's Office is now investigating whether the boy had been the victim of bullying.
Due to the sensitive nature of this story, News 3 has chosen not to report the young man's name at this point.
However, the victim's father, Brad Lewis, posted a Facebook video the night his son died. As of Friday afternoon, that video had received more 1,700 shares. Lewis says bullying needs to come to an end and that his son left a note blaming the cruel behavior.
"My son was my buddy," said Lewis. "We did a lot of things together."
Lewis shares his heart in the nearly seven minutes of Facebook video. He explains that his 15-year-old son took his life because of bullying.
"Some people just don't have the strength to overcome the humiliation," said Lewis.
Experts say the mean behavior can have a huge impact on kids and teens who are consistently picked on and left out.
"They can be at higher risk for the development of a variety anxiety or depressive disorders," said SIU Director of Clinical Psychology Mary Louise Cashel.
Children may not want to tell their parents about bullying, especially older kids, but Cashel says there are warning signs parents can look for in their sons and daughters. Those include changes in mood or routine.
"If they're suddenly not affiliating with kids that they used to spend a lot of time with," said Cashel.
Cashel warns moms and dads not to overreact if they do learn of bullying. Instead, take time to listen and talk.
"What are all of the different options that you have in these situations?," suggested Cashel. "What might work or what might help?"
She also recommends keeping a close eye on internet and cell phone activity. Social media gives kids new ways to connect and attack.
"The ability to just quickly say things without, you know, kind of considering the impact on the person receiving it," said Cashel.
When it comes to positive influences, parents can be key in showing kids how to interact with other people and how to deal with conflict.
"You're never going to like everybody and we can't expect every kid is going to like every other kid," said Cashel. "But what we can expect, and what we can model, is how do you be respectful to others, even those that you don't necessarily like."
For more information on how to handle bullying, Cashel recommends visiting the resources on stopbullying.gov
The Carterville School District says they had never received reports of the victim being bullied. Superintendent Bob Prusator says his thoughts and prayers go out to the family.
The district has also had counselors available for students and staff.
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