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The sadness of this death
Editor's take
Jeff Whitten NEW
Jeff Whitten is managing editor of the Courier. - photo by File photo

Nobody I know takes pleasure in reporting death, no matter how it occurs or what circumstances surround it.

But the death of children is something else entirely, something that knocks the wind entirely out of your sails — and it doesn’t matter whether you know the kid or the family.

It’s just not supposed to happen.

Kids aren’t supposed to die, and they certainly aren’t supposed to take their own lives.

And then they do.

Years ago, our neighbor’s daughter, a middle school student, was bullied. She took her life.

A girl in Richmond Hill, also a middle school student, committed suicide some years ago.

And now, it’s reportedly happened again. Another possible suicide of a girl who was not yet old enough to get a learner’s permit to drive a car. Or so we are told by the parent of another child who faced similar issues at the school. She said the child was bullied to the point she took her life.

And that’s terribly heartbreaking.

There used to be an unwritten rule — at least in print journalism (I can’t and won’t speak for the TV media) — that you didn’t name those who committed suicide unless they made it such a public act there was no way around it.

I’ve heard various reasons why, but mostly it was out of respect for family members and their need to understand and mourn the loss of a loved one.

Give them space. Leave them alone. They’re suffering enough without everybody knowing the reason behind their grief.

That’s why stories in today’s paper don’t use the girl’s name, even though it’s out there on social media and, I’m told, was reported on TV.

But until the parents or a family member tells me differently, we’re keeping this kid’s name out of the story.

The girls’ family is entitled to that, just as they’re entitled to know why this happened and who’s responsible.

And that’s where you get conflicted. Because as much as one wants these folks to have their space to grieve, when kids are being bullied into ending their lives it has to be reported — or else we’ve really stopped caring.

So, hopefully, this young lady will become a catalyst to stop such tragedy from happening again.

That’s what the optimist in me wants to see happen, even though the cynic in me knows it probably won’t.

After all, bullies have been around forever.

Only, when I was a kid you used to be able to escape them, or fight them in the hallway and, win or lose, at least get it over with.

Nowadays, thanks to the same social media that spreads fake news and rumor like wildfire, there is expanded reach for the bullies in our world.

Now, all it takes for a bully to make a child think their life is ruined is to push a send button. The cynic in me knows that won’t end anytime soon, that the world is always going to contain those who bully.

That doesn’t mean we stop fighting them back. Or that we at the Courier will stop respecting a family’s right to mourn on their own terms.

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