“You wouldn’t understand, Dad,” Carterville, Ill, 15-year old high school sophomore Jordan Lewis said, “I’m being picked on at school.” Jordan explained to his father Brad Lewis why he had decided to quit football after only one day of practice this 2013 season. Living two hours away from Jordan and his ex-wife, Brad probably found keeping up with his son’s experiences difficult.
Bullying accounted for Jordan’s withdrawal from football–and despair. On National Spirit Day at school, in an effort to raise awareness, the school showed students an anti-bullying video. In the climax, the bullied young man went home and took his own life. The next day, Jordan texted a friend to say he was considering harming himself. The friend called Jordan’s grandmother. Alarmed, after failing to reach either parent, his grandmother called local police. The police visited the home that evening on “a wellness visit.” The next morning, after his mother left for work, Jordan wrote a note, called 911, and took his life.
School administrators reported to Brad that they had received no reports of bullying directed toward Jordan. The local sherriff’s office, however, which is investigating, said allegations of bulllying are a part of their investigation.
In his grief, and in his efforts to prevent similar incidents, Brad posted a seven-minute video on Jordan’s FaceBook page. “This bullying has to stop. People have to stop treating other people the way they do,” he said. “Because some people just don’t have the strength to overcome the humiliation, the continuation of being picked on constantly every day [leads to] to the point that they have no out.”
Feeling a greater need to fit in that at any other time of their life, teens are particularly sensitive to rejection from peers. Many factors possibly contributed to Jordan’s vulnerability to bullying: his parent’s divorce, he father’s physical distance, his feeling his father wouldn’t understand, and his mother’s lack of availability through work.
One other factor may also have contributed to Jordan’s sad death: the anti-bullying school video. Showing the vulnerable teen a model way out through suicide inadvertantly may also have played a part in Jordan’s tragic death.
Teen or adult, if you feel no one understands, if you’re disconnected from people you need, if you’re thinking of a way out of humiliation, or if you think you would be better off dead, call your doctor, counselor, clergy, or let me know. Right away.