A coworker told me the saddest thing last week. There was a story in the Post with the headline: “Bullies Killed My Daughter.” A 12-year old girl was bullied into committing suicide.
I did not know Maria Herrera but I have known bullying and felt the desperation that might cause someone to take their own life. I’ve also known the sadness of losing someone to suicide.
But 12? There’s still a lot of hope and optimism at that age, isn’t there? The taunting must have been quite severe in order to have driven a 12-year old to such a sad conclusion.
And her peers? Where were her peers? I have a hard time believing that she didn’t have any friends? Are they next to be driven to death?
What about the bullies? Will they be punished? All that is mentioned is a card the victim’s class made with their weak apologetic statements. There is no closure or justice in allowing the bullies to carry on without some form of punishment.
I am a little taken back by comments like “there must have been something else going on in her life.” Some have used this line to rationalize Maria’s tragic death. I see it as a “blaming the victim” response. I believe that suicide as the layperson understands it, cannot exist. Self-preservation is among our most primal and basic instincts.
When someone takes his or her own life there is a motive; external stresses at play. No one really takes their own lives. They are driven to that point by others, sometimes peers regardless of intent.
Suicide: there are aggressors and their victims.
It is depressing how easy it is to find articles on instances of bullying as the cause of “tween suicides.” Among the results that were yielded when I Googled “12-year old suicide” and “bullies” was a story about the 2002 suicide of a 12-year old boy in Connecticut. The mother was jailed as being negligent but those who bullied him faced no consequences.
In Japan, the suicide of a 12-year girl has brought national and international attention to its “bullying epidemic.” Over the course of a single weekend three students committed suicide. A principal also committed suicide in atonement for his lack of response in preventing bullying at his school. Like US, outside of a weak inconsequential plea, being bullied is considered a developmental norm and the bullies in each of the situations have not been punished.
Maria was bullied to death. It is murder. Her aggressors should be punished. So far there has been no justice for Maria Herrera. Her school denies that Maria was bullied and the DOE says no complaints were filed. The Administration for Child Services is investigating. I hope the little girl’s family sees justice and closure soon.