Monday, 16 May 2011I immigrated to the United States from England with my family when I was 12 years old. Reading the tragic story of Phoebe Prince, the Irish immigrant that took her life as a result of being bullied, brought back some uncomfortable memories of my own time in middle school, when my peers targeted me for being “different.” The harassment I faced was never so bad that I couldn’t handle it, but it definitely left deep and lasting scars on my psyche. In 2009, after a particularly difficult day of being harassed at school, Phoebe Prince went home and hanged herself. The teens that bullied her faced criminal charges, and recently, they all appeared before a judge for sentencing.
Bullying is never acceptable, but I can’t get past the loss for everyone involved. Suicide and bullying both have a massive impact on more than just the victim’s immediate family and friends, and it is known that both bullies and their victims are more likely to suffer from depression. The Prince family lost a daughter, the community lost a child, and the bullies now not only have criminal records, but have also become the targets of international media attention.
With the legal case finally over, hopefully Phoebe’s community will find some closure. We hope that parents, teachers, students, and community members will try to grow from this horribly tragic event and seek out opportunities to become educated about the signs of depression, and how to talk to teens about it. Families for Depression Awareness created the Teen Depression Education Program that teaches people how to recognize depression, techniques for talking about depression, and how to help. With more education we can learn to better recognize the symptoms of depression in both the bullies and their victims, and put a stop to this destructive cycle.
--Katie, Families for Depression Awareness