Local anti-bullying experts fear more suicides if witnesses don't speak up

Local anti-bullying experts fear more suicides if witnesses don't speak up

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The suicide of an 11-year-old boy has bullying experts calling for people to step up and stop it from happening.

They are reacting to Monday's death of Taquairius McDonald and fear it could happen again because people are still standing on the sidelines and watching it happen.

"When your babies leave home in the morning, they're walking into a war zone," said Mary Wilson of East Toledo.

She knows the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. Her 12-year-old great niece, Jamera White, took her own life in 2014 after relentless online bullying.

A public speaker on bullying even before Jamera's death, Mary wants parents to know the warning signs.

"Change in friends. Isolation, When your kids stop doing things that they really enjoy. Jamera loved cheer leading. All of a sudden, she didn't want to do it any more," she said.

Mary is heartbroken again after Taquairius' death. The non-profit she founded, Project ER, takes on bullying and she wants kids or adults who notice it to speak up.

"He was just a baby, just a baby," said Wilson. "But somebody could have prevented that from happening if we were more in tune with our babies and advocating for them."

Danielle Cisterino-Hajdu, with the Lucas County Suicide Prevention Coalition and ProMedica Toledo Children's Hospital, also thinks Taquairius' life could have been spared.

"Bystanders have all the power in this situation to turn the tide. If bystanders didn't laugh at this or say this is culturally okay for is, we're going to support the behavior, if they don't do that, the fact is this is going to go down."

Cisterino-Hajdu said people who witness bullying should tell a school administrator or even a school board member. You can also call an anonymous hotline number.

"This should not happen! We should not have 11 year-old children thinking that the only solution is to end their life," she said.

Experts also put some of the responsibility on parents. We should be having conversations with our kids about how their day was and always monitor their social media use.

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