May 31, 2012

East Harlem: Joel Morales, Age 12 Ended His Life

Joel Morales, a very bright East Harlem 12 year old with a seemingly brilliant future ahead of him, ended his life late Tuesday night. News accounts report that Joel was 4 feet 9 inches tall, and because he was short and smart, he was a frequent target and victim of bullying, enduring constant taunts, harassment and threats. NBC New York reports:
"A 12-year-old East Harlem boy harassed by school bullies about his intelligence, his height and his deceased father hanged himself in the apartment he shared with his mother Tuesday night, according to multiple reports.

Joel Morales transferred from P.S. 102 to P.S. 57 after enduring incessant taunting for months, but the bullying persisted at his new school, the fifth-grader’s family told the Daily News.

Kids chased Morales, threw sticks and pipes at him and teased him for his smarts and his 4-foot-9 stature, the boy’s aunt Angelica Babilonia told the paper.

Morales’ anguish reached a breaking point when bullies taunted him about his father, who died when he was four years old, relatives told the News and The New York Post."

I have to emphasize that bullying in itself does not cause an adolescent to attempt suicide. There are other co-factors that contribute to an individual deciding to harm themselves. 

Depression, or a major depressive disorder, is almost always present, and if you are a parent, that’s what you need to be looking for. Your child will be depressed before they consider harming themselves. Get your child medical help, because depression is treatable. Don’t tell your child to deal with it, or get over it, or work through it. Get them professional help.

Observe mood, sleep patterns, and any changes in your child’s daily routine. Is your child spending more time alone than he or she normally does? Are they sleeping more? Sleeping less? Are they staying home from school more to avoid the bullies? Watch for the symptoms so that you can get your child help and treatment, if necessary.

Depression and suicide is treatable and preventable, and it’s up to parents and family members to intervene and prevent a child from taking their life or harming themselves.


Joel - you and your family are in my heart, my thoughts, and my prayers.

RIP Joel Morales.



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