My bullying series uncovers key insights and profiles young people who have committed suicide due to bullying (commonly called bullycide). Click here to read my series from the beginning.
Fifteen (15) year old Billy Lucas took his life in Greensburg, Indiana on September 9, 2010. Family members indicate that the school knew Billy was being bullied and did little to address it. Like so many cases, the school actually held Billy accountable whenever he occasionally gained the courage to stand up against those who terrorized him. The school claims they knew nothing about the bullying. Many witnesses share a different story.
Students say Billy was tormented by threats and insults over the past several years. Even in death, some have placed homophobic remarks on Billy’s Facebook Memorial page.
Friends say Billy was treated horribly because of his sexual orientation. He was called “fag” all the time. He was even told “you’re a piece of crap” and “you don’t deserve to live.” He absorbed most of this harassment calmly. Many say that Billy rarely defended himself against the bullying.
On the day he died, however, he was suspended from school for fighting back with cuss words against the bullies. James Alan Fox, Professor of Criminology at Northeastern University, in “Why Anti-Bullying Programs Fail” (Boston Globe, August 31, 2010) notes that victims often are the ones who get punished. Bullies tend to do their harassment in unnoticed spaces before quickly retreating to public domains.
Before Billy had lashed out to defend himself, some of the bullies told him to go kill himself. One pulled a chair out from underneath him and told him “go hang yourself.” That evening, Billy did just that. He lived on a farm in Greensburg, Indiana. He spent several hours with his favorite animals in the family’s barn before taking a horse lead (rope or strap) and hanging himself from the rafters. His mother found his lifeless body.
Billy’s Mom said, “Yes, he was bullied. Yes, I did talk to the school. The community let us down.” Billy’s family has been cloaked in silence and mourning since his death. They opted for no obituary and no public funeral, so that the bullies will never get near their son again.
News coverage reported that a few students who had bullied Billy showed up at his vigil feeling the weight of what they had done. Others continue to batter Billy on the Facebook Memorial Page set up to honor his life. Their comments would be childish if they were not so overtly hateful. Those making horrendous comments have shielded their true identity by wearing masks for their Facebook photo – proving what many have already said: that bullies are actually weak cowards.
On a positive note, Billy’s memorial page is filled with good people of all ages expressing their condolences and offering a listening ear to teens struggling with bullying or suicide. Several vulnerable teens have expressed a temptation to take their life, and they are receiving instant affirmation and encouragement to stay strong. Many commenters offer, “You are so valuable! I am here for you.” Others are being referred to national hotlines where they can get professional assistance.
Reflecting Billy’s quiet persona, his memorial page is humbly saving countless young lives.
(1) Visit the Billy Lucas Facebook Memorial Page (here and here and here).
(2) Watch memorial videos on YouTube (here and here).
(3) Watch news coverage of Billy’s Vigil.
(4) Watch news coverage of Billy’s Death.
(5) Read James Alan Fox’s article on how bullying victims are often blamed.
If you are suicidal, reach out for help today. If you need guidance on how to obtain “safe” help, I invite you to contact me. You are worth it!
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