Father of son who killed self to speak in Valley on suicide

Staff report


Almost 10 years ago, 13-year-old Ryan Halligan committed suicide.

He did so after years of being ridiculed, humiliated and bullied by his peers at school and online.

Now, his father, John Halligan, will tell the story of his family to Mahoning Valley students and parents.

School and law enforcement officials joined together to bring Halligan, a nationally-known speaker, to the area. Springfield Township juvenile diversion police officer Aimee Schweers has worked for two years to coordinate Halligan’s visit.

Schweers said Halligan is an accomplished speaker and activist who will bring an important message to the community.

“In the Springfield community, I have been talking about his story to the middle-school kids for five years. And throughout my research of bullying and suicide, his story about his son just touched me, and it unfortunately sounds like the story of too many kids,” Schweers said.

Halligan will speak at schools in Springfield and Poland next week and also will have a free program open to the public from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Springfield Intermediate School.

After his son’s suicide, Halligan led efforts to get the 2004 Vermont Bullying Prevention Law enacted. His family’s story has been featured on “Primetime,” ‘‘PBS Frontline” and ‘‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’’

Halligan has been outspoken about the need for more education and prevention of bullying, cyber bullying and teen suicide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that for youths between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death and results in about 4,600 death each year.

A nationwide survey of youth in grades 9 through 12. found that 16 percent reported seriously considering suicide, 13 percent reported creating a plan and 8 percent reporting trying to take their own life in the 12 months preceding the survey, according to the CDC.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.