January 2013

We are all the solution to bullying

“Megan, are you ready to go eat? Come on, Megan let’s go.”  Jessica walked into Megan’s room. Bang, Bang, Bang. “Oh my God, Megan. NO.”

This is how it ended for Megan Sentale Wright, a Johnson C.  Smith University student, who took her own life in 2011 after years of being bullied.  In recent years a series of bullying- related suicides in the US and across the globe have drawn attention to the connection between bullying and suicide. Though too many adults still see bullying as “just part of being a kid,” it is a serious problem that leads to many negative effects for victims, including suicide. Many people may not realize that there is also a link between being a bully and committing suicide.

Unfortunately, many college students at some point have been a victim of some sort of bullying. This subject is seldom talked about on college campus, and sometimes it goes unnoticed until the unthinkable happens– suicide.  Saint Augustine’s University senior David Pitchmen knows about that firsthand: “My first cousin killed himself last year because of what I believe to have been bullying issues at school,” David said.

Few circumstances are as extreme as Megan’s.  She spent half her life living in the shadow of others. Born into a very dysfunctional family, her mother was a compulsive drug user and she never knew her father.  At the age of three Megan suffered from an accident that would alter her life. As her mother stood over the stove cooking she lifted a pot of boiling water from the stove to pour it out and when she turned around to do so she jumped. Megan was standing directly behind her. She was so surprised that when she jumped the hot water spilled onto the head of the baby and proceeded down her face and body.

Megan suffered third degree burns from the accident. She lost all the right side of her hair never to grow back again. Her face did heal from the burns but the scars were a constant reminder of what happened. Even as a 22-year-old junior at Johnson C. Smith she lived with the consistent joking and picking dating back to grade school.  She walked down the halls day in and day out hoping that she would go unnoticed. Megan  missed out on all the events that any young adult looks forward to such as prom, football and basketball games and even senior week. Guys thought she was too ugly to ask out on and girls didn’t hang around her because of her deformed looks. She spent so many days and nights feeling unwanted and unneeded there was no amount of money or therapy that could change her feelings.

Jessica Freedom was the only friend that Megan had, always standing by her side and always being her shoulder to cry on. “I protected her not only from others, but I protected her from herself,” said Freedom. On October 23, 2011 Jessica would no longer be able to protect Megan from herself.

Even though Megan’s circumstances seem extreme, many college students have had to live with some version of her story.  The rest of us should learn from her tragic story and do our part in helping those who are victims. We can’t change what happened yesterday, but we can change someone’s tomorrow by taking a stand. I’m sure by doing so Megan will look down from Heaven smiling by knowing her death was nor in vain.

— By Devin Paylor