The recent death of a Tehachapi teenager has prompted local people to try and find a solution to bullying at school. The parents of some of 13-year-old Seth Walsh's friends say he was openly gay, and that led to years of bullying, and ended in him taking his own life.
Walsh has been immortalized on YouTube, in a video created by his best friend who prayed he would recover. But after reportedly hanging himself nine days ago, Seth died on Wednesday.
"All I know is that the tragedy happened," said Jamie Phillips, the father of Walsh's friend. "I don't know who did it, and I hope who did it understands what they did."
Walsh's family said they knew he was being bullied, but they didn't think they'd lose him because of it.
"He was a very unique and wonderful child and he left us too soon," said his grandmother, Judy Walsh. "But we are blessed because he was an organ donor and we found out he gave a heart. So he lives on, just not with us, and that's where we wish he were."
Tehachapi parents came together Wednesday evening to try and find a way to fight back against the bullies and spark the school district into action, because they say not enough was done to save him.
Some solutions they came up with were to have an online forum, and perhaps a confidential hotline for students to report bullying anonymously.
One young woman at the meeting volunteered to act as a mediator at the schools so students would have someone young to confide in.
"I've been bullied myself because I've always been the different kid in school," she said. "I actually have been told to go kill myself, right in front of a teacher. And the teacher said nothing. And I didn't have anybody to talk to. So I am willing to be somebody to talk to."
They also wanted harsher repercussions for educators if they know about a bullying situation and they don't act.
"Our school board has not been enforcing the education code, and as a result I lost a grandson," said Jim Walsh, Seth's grandfather.
"It's going to take a long time for healing," Phillips said. "This is a terrible thing that's happened. So let's wake up, and start doing something about it."
If you, or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, call the Kern County Mental Health Crisis
hotline at 800-991-5272. It's available 24 hours a day.
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