I had another article for you today. Yet again, I came across something on Thursday that changed my article for the week.
I want you to meet Ashley Anne. Ashley Anne turned 22 on February 6, she started her own jewelry company with a friend to help a boy battling cancer, graduated from a fashion design company, and was in an internship with a jewelry and fashion company in New York . Ashley Anne will not be turning 23; she jumped off the upper deck of the George Washington Bridge, into the Hudson River on her 22nd birthday.
I was looking at the handmade calendar my daughter made for me for Christmas while I was thinking about Ashley Anne. That calendar my daughter made for me will survive long after this year. It will have an honored place in my “gummy box”, along with so many other things she has made for me. That gummy box is the outward symbol of the total and unconditional love of a child. Ashley Anne never got to have a gummy box, she never had a chance to bask in the total and unconditional love of a her own child.
Ashley Anne left a long note and even listed five people she did not want at the funeral. She apologized to three people and said the rest where “just in it for the gossip.” The newspapers all appear to blame bullying for her suicide. The police are investigating, they want to make sure that the bullying was not in her imagination. You see, she was taking Adderall which is to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcolepsy and also Klonopin which is used to treat seizures in epilepsy and for treatment of panic disorder.
Unfortunately, this is happening more and more often in our society, last year was a record year for suicides on the George Washington Bridge. If suicide received the attention of mass killings, we would have done something a long time ago.
We care. We do care. “Someone should do something!” The someone we mean are the authorities. More laws from government, more rules from schools.
At a restaurant two couples sit at a table. All four staring intently at their I-phones. When the waitress comes they do not even need to look up at her to place their order. They use the restaurant’s app on their smart phone to place their order.
Humans are mammals, a part of the animal kingdom. In every species, either the male or the female is aggressive, it is part of their DNA, it is part of what helps the species survive. One aggressive, one nurturing. Yin and yang, balance, natural. In our society we are attempting to drive that aggressiveness out of our young boys. When I grew up little boys were encouraged to play out this aggressiveness. We played cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, and war. As we grew older, we were taught how to channel, use, and control this aggressiveness for the good of our families. Now we suspend boys from school for doing what is a natural part of who they are. There are bullies in our society, there always have been, even before recorded history. Stopping little boys from being little boys will not stop bullying, and it will certainly have no effect on little girls who bully.
Of course now there will be a “national debate” on bullying again (see the articles below). We will set out to show people “we mean business, this bullying must stop”. It is easier for “someone” else to deal with bullies, than for us to deal with people. We demand action and another authority does another legislative thing, and we feel good. We join another protest, sign another petition, or verbally assault someone on facebook who disagrees with our solution to the problem and this shows we care. We did something, we care. We demanded someone else do something, someone who has not fixed any national problem yet. No we did not do something, and calling 911 is not “doing something” either. That is not doing something, and we are fibbing to ourselves if we think it is doing something.
Humans are a social creature. We need that interaction with other humans (and our pets), it helps to keep us healthy both mentally and physically. However, people have been replaced by a little rectangular contraption in our hands, a contraption we never take our eyes off. How many people saw Ashley Anne in the last hour of her life? How many people saw the pain in Ashley Anne’s face during that last hour of her life? How many people saw Ashley Anne in the last hour of her life, saw the pain, and did nothing?
Dr. Martin Luther King jr. once said in a speech, “Evil does not win when bad people do bad things, evil wins when good people do nothing.” One of the things I will carry with me always was something a good man did when my daughter Alexandra died. Bernie, a man I did not know and had never met, asked me, “what can I do for you?” Usually, we say, “If I can do anything for you, let me know.” Bernie did not ask “IF”, he knew we needed help and he had decided he was going to do something. Evil did not win that day because of Bernie.
We need to stop doing nothing. What do we need to do? Put away the electronics and reach out to someone. The next time you see someone at the mall, gas station, grocery store or where ever; and that person has those eyes of pain, stop them. Introduce yourself and ask what you can do for them. Give them your cell number to call when they need someone, and ask them for their phone number so you can call them and see how they are doing. Bernire did that for me. You will be surprised what just one phone call every occasionally can do for someone. You will never stop all bullies, but you can reach out to someone and let them know they are not alone, they are important, and they are special. You can let that person know the bullies are wrong about them. Don’t do that for me, do that for Alexandra, do that for Bernie, do it for Ashley Anne.
We can do this.
- Ashley Riggitano: Facebook Bullying Fueled Depression & Suicide (hollywoodlife.com)
- Fashionista Ashley Riggitano, 22, Dead After Being Bullied On Facebook (hollywoodlife.com)
- Ashley Riggitano’s Grieving Sister Speaks Out & Funeral Arrangements (hollywoodlife.com)
- February 9 – National Stop Bullying Day (budgetcouponcooking.wordpress.com)
- Fashionista Suicide: Ashley Riggitano Leaves Diary, Writes About Bullying (news.softpedia.com)
- Teaching Kids About Bullying (parenting.answers.com)
- Ashley Anne Riggitano, a New York Fashionsta jumps to her death after Facebook argument (upi.com)
- Don’t be a bully. (ispygod.net)
- Ashley Riggitano’s Boyfriend Speaks After Suicide: ‘She Loved Me’ (hollywoodlife.com)
- Why Did Ashley Anne Riggitano Kill Herself? New Details Have Been Revealed (americanlivewire.com)