Eleven-year-old Ty Smalley had been bullied relentlessly for two years. One day in 2010, he couldn’t take it anymore. He fought back against his bully, but was caught by school authorities, who thought he was causing a fight. Suspended for three days, Ty was distraught as his mother picked him up from school, took him home, told him to do his chores and homework, and said they’d talk that evening.
“Laura came home at 2:38 p.m. on May 13, 2010, and she found out that Ty hadn’t done his homework,” Ty’s father told Everyday Heroes Radio. “Instead, he had killed himself on our bedroom floor.
“Ever since then, Laura and I have literally been traveling all over the country and the world talking to families and schools, trying to make this stop,” Kirk Smalley continued. ”That’s where [our] passion comes from: to save other babies from doing what Ty did.”
Ty’s story, sadly, is not unique. Bullying is a huge issue in society today, and its fallout has extended far beyond a good cry in the school bathroom. Kids aren’t seeing a way out, and many go to extremes.
“The statistics in this world are just staggering,” Smalley said. “In this country, one out of every four kids have a plan right now for how they would take their own life. I actually have a list of over 55,000 children in America in the last seven years who have taken their lives due to bullying.”
After hearing about Ty’s heartbreaking story, 68 high school students from Oklahoma City started Stand for the Silent and became a group determined to stop vulnerable young students who were being bullied from taking their lives. Kirk and his wife reached out to the organization’s director to become involved in the program. Together, they decided to take their initiative nationwide, applied for nonprofit status and began campaigning to stop bullying and teen suicide.
In the past six years, the Smalleys have visited more than 1,000 schools and spoken to over a million kids. Their work even has been recognized all the way at the Oval Office. In 2011, the Smalleys met with President Obama and then attended the White House’s first-ever conference on bullying. They’ve also met with Lady Gaga at the launch of her Born This Way campaign.
The Smalleys have spoken at schools, conferences and even prisons. The message, which includes the stories of Ty and others, have inspired over 300 chapters in 39 states and 17 countries.
“The chapters’ main goal is to spread awareness of the issues of bullying and youth suicide,” Kirk Smalley said. “They provide a place for the kids who are picked on to feel like they belong and it helps empower them.”
If you’d like to start a chapter or donate, please visit Standforthesilent.org.