Another bullying turned suicide story appeared on my news feed, last Wednesday with the title, “15-Year-old in the Bronx Commits Suicide Due to Bullying.” My heart was broken once again.
Another child decided to end their life as an answer to escape their pain. Mya Vizcarrondo-Rios,16, had been tormented by bullies at school for five months before she was sexually assaulted on the day of her death. She had made continuous reports of being bullied but her complaints fell on deaf ears. According to reports, Mya told a guidance counselor and the school’s principal, Keri Alfano, about the bullying. They failed her. They sent her back to class without notifying her parents about the reports. Mya was continually bullied to the point where she was forced to perform oral acts on two boys in her school while the kids were left unsupervised in the auditorium. Feeling scarred and unable to seek help, that very day after school she jumped off the roof of her building. Her parents soon discovered the trauma that their daughter had endured during school when uncovering why she committed suicide.
After discovering their daughter had been bullied and that the school failed to act, her parents sought justice immediately after their daughter’s death. They took action and are now suing the city, the Education Department, and school administrators to seek justice for their daughter. Within the past year cases of bullying have increased and with this case being so public, the Education Department decided to fund $8 million towards initiatives targeting bullying, including training, and online resources to help prevent bullying in the school system.
However, this isn’t the first case where a child reported bullying and was neglected. Ashawnty Davis made headlines in 2017 when she committed suicide after a video of her fighting on the playground surfaced on the former app “Musical.ly” (bought by “TickTock” )
The main concern about this video where was the adult supervision is? After the video went viral, Ashwanty was bullied even more at her school. Reports claimed that the fight did not take place during school hours. However, teachers didn’t notice the bullying that was happening during school hours. The death of Ashawnty led to her parents to participate in the investigation to help seek justice for their daughter.
There are more cases, unfortunately, similar to Ashawnty’s and Mya’s deaths. These girls felt alone and were targeted by their harassers day after day. “Bullycide” is now the term for children who turn to death as a result of bullying. According to Pacer.org, children of color are more likely to experience bullying than non-children of color. 74% of children who are apart of the LGBTQ+ community experience bullying. With these stats and news stories, there is strong advocacy for people to recognize that children of color are committing suicide at higher rates than non-poc children.
These children are more than just a hashtag and post on Instagram. These are children who were unheard and unseen when they reached out for support. Which makes us ask, are school officials getting it? Are they acknowledging that bullying has reached an epidemic state? With these cases surfacing and more schools willing to have the conversation, we may see change. But, we need to have change in order to protect these children. We send condolences to the families and will continually bring awareness to these issues.