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Friday, 30 August 2013 21:44

Kirk Smalley Speaks at Public Forum on Bullying & Youth Suicide

 
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On May 13, 2010, Kirk Smalley irretrievably lost what was most important to him. Now he speaks across the country to help make sure other parents don't lose their children to suicide.

When Smalley's son Ty was 11, he committed suicide. It was after being bullied, which Ty had experienced for two years. Ty retaliated, Smalley explained, and Ty got caught, and suspended from school. That afternoon, Ty committed suicide.

1213 days ago, Smalley informed the people attending the Community Open Forum at Glassford Hill Middle School Library on Thursday night. That's when Ty died.

Smalley recited statistics that are grim. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for teenagers in America. 55,000 kids have died from suicide after being bullied. The youngest was 6 years old.

As he spoke, he wandered throughout the room, making close contact with students, parents and other individuals. His pain and his grief were clearly visible, and many in the room cried when they heard his words. But, Smiley has a purpose, a mission. "One month and 7 days after Ty died, I promised I will stop bullying in this world," Smalley said. "I don't break promises to my kid."

But, Smiley acknowledged he can't keep this promise by himself. "I can't do that alone. I need your help. I'm not asking you to do it for me, do it for your kids, your grandbabies," he pleaded.

Now Smalley represents an organization called, Stand for the Silent (SFTS). SFTS was created by a group of 68 kids in Oklahoma City who heard about Ty's death and decided to do something about it. They developed the art and graphics, the message and the pledge:

"From this day forward, I promise to respect those around me as well as respect myself. I AM SOMEBODY and I can make a difference. I can make another feel loved. I an be the helping hand that leads another back to the path of hope and aspiration. I WILL NOT STAND SILENT as others try to spread hatred through my community. Instead, I pledge to lift up these fictms and show them that their life matters. I will be the change because I AM SOMEBODY."

Smalley came to the Prescott area to share his family's story in local schools, and also to share resources for parents and kids that are hurting.

Chapters of SFTS are being set up across the United States and in many countries across the world. There is more information about that at their website, standforthesilent.org. It's also full of other information.

121Help.Me connects kids to helplines. 1.855.201.2121 is open 24/7.

Family Online Safety Institute has a free contract for parents and kids regarding online activities. You can download it here. Other resources are also available at the website.

http://www.empoweringparents.com/My-Child-Is-Being-Bullied.php

http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/bullies.html

http://www.pacer.org/bullying/

http://www.stopbullying.gov/respond/support-kids-involved

Tonight, Friday, August 30, the movie, Bully, which is about the Smalleys, will be playing at the Elks Theater, sponsored by the Prescott Film Festival. There will be a Q&A with Smalley afterwards.

What: Screening of 'Bully'

Where: Elks Theater, Prescott

Time: 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Cost: Adults $6.00; under 18 $3.00