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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

Cody J. Barker took his life on September 13, 2010 in Shiocton, Wisconsin. He was seventeen years old. Cody attended Shiocton High School. His peer mentor, Maria Peeples, said that Cody desired to protect those “targeted or ostracized for their sexual orientation or their gender identity and expression.” He wanted to make school a safe place for these students, but Peeples notes, “That wasn’t always his own experience with school.”    

Cody is a great example of how suicides of gay teens regularly go unnoticed among the general population. There are “some” online articles about his death, but nearly all of the media coverage is either in the Shiocton area or on LGBT+ websites. The amount of information about his life and death is quite limited. Absent the focus on gay teen suicides, we might not be hearing about Cody.

One lesson for school officials is that every word of their response must be measured carefully. Shiocton Superintindent Chris VanderHeyden just days ago said, “It didn’t have to do with bullying at all. There were some personal issues in Cody’s life that he was battling, and that’s what led to his unfortunately poor choice to take his own life.” This kind of statement is highly insensitive. Cody’s parents were shocked at the way the school so quickly dismissed what they clearly knew – that Cody endured taunts. 

While many will never know about Cody’s suffering and death, there is a family in Wisconsin that has lost their dear son and brother. We can serve them by remembering and working to prevent violence and hate directed toward LGBT+ people. Pray for Cody’s parents, James and Darla, and his big sister Casey.   

Resources

(1) Sign Cline Hanson Funeral Home’s memorial web page for Cody. 

(2) Read latest Appleton Post Cresent article debating the cause of Cody’s death.

(3) Read AnnArbor.com article encouraging parents to address bullying. 

(4) Read the Appleton Post Cresent article on Cody’s death.

If you are struggling with your sexuality, reach out for help today. You are worth it!

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