DENVER (CBS4)– The father of a teenager who took his own life after being bullied is taking a stand against bullying and teen suicide. Rick Padilla talked about his son Jack and his legacy on CBS4 This Morning with Dominic Garcia.
“I think it was really important. This is an issue that’s impacting our community, impacting the state, impacting the country. I needed to reach out to you and other media outlets just to talk about teen suicide, teen suicide prevention and awareness,” said Rick Padilla.
Jack Padilla, 15, a freshman at Cherry Creek High School, committed suicide in February. Friends and family members said Jack was the target of an older group of students who physically and verbally bullied him.
Friends said that they did not report the bullying to adults because the feared the problem for Jack would get worse, they worried the bullies would retaliate, and they did not want to be considered “snitches.”
Cherry Creek School District officials said the school did not receive any reports of Jack being bullied prior to his suicide.
Suicide rates for teens and young adults in the U.S. are the highest on record. Rick Padilla talked about what may be behind the rise.
“As I’ve gone down this journey I’ve really learned a lot of factors that I think are contributing towards it. Social media may be one. I think the pressures and demands on our students in high school is also a favorite and bullying also plays into this, both cyberbullying and physical bullying. I think it’s a combination of factors actually,” said Rick Padilla.
In Jack’s name, supporters started an anti-suicide and bullying prevention campaign called #JackStrong.
“We made a decision early on when Jack was in the hospital fighting for his life, that if we were going to make a significant change in the impact to reduce teen suicide we needed to be willing to share our story. And we’ve shared our story in a lot of different ways over the last eight months,” said Rick Padilla. “It has helped us heal, it’s painful, every day is painful, but it helps the healing process. We want to leave a legacy for Jack and all the other kids who have died by suicide.”
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Your call is confidential and free.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
LINK: Mental Health Resources