Who is Ryan Halligan? What is the Ryan Halligan Story?
Ryan Patrick Halligan was a 13-year-old student in Vermont, US. Ryan Halligan was bullied by his classmates in school and cyberbullied online. Ryan committed suicide at the sweet too innocent age of 13. Those are the three sentences you need to know before you read the story.
A sweet, fragile, fun loving and extremely intelligent boy, Ryan was threatened, insulted and taunted incessantly at school and online. At some point, a schoolmate claimed she had a crush on him while they talked online, little did he know that everything he said and shared with her was also shared with the rest of the school.
Ryan Patrick Halligan was in hell, and while he did not feel up to letting his parents and his school know about his ordeal, he went online and researched ways to end his life with the help of several pro-suicide websites. As shocking and devastating as his father was when his daughter found her brother lifeless, he dedicated the rest of his life to lobbying for laws to be passed in the USA to improve how schools address bullying and cyberbullying. He tours the country giving speeches in schools
Ryan Patrick Halligan had a learning disorder but never allowed it to discourage him from learning, he always smiled at everyone and was never mean or hurtful to anyone he met. He tried conveying his trouble with bullying to his father but his dad simply told him that words don’t hurt and that he should ignore the bullies. It would be hard for his parents to read taunts online about “Ryan Patrick gay” slurs all over his social media profiles.
Ryan’s father allowed him to fight off bullies and Ryan succeeded at first and even struck up a friendship with one of his bullies, the bully used Ryan’s trust to hear his problem with learning and later used their conversations to spread a lie about how Ryan was gay.
During the next summer, Ryan Patrick Halligan was cyber-bullied by schoolmates who taunted him, thinking he was gay. Ryan s story was about him being also bullied at school about this; his father later learned that on one occasion, Ryan Patrick Halligan ran out of the classroom in tears. Ryan Patrick Halligan had deliberately saved transcripts of online exchanges in which Ashley, a popular girl whom Ryan had a crush on, pretended to like him. Later at school, she told him that he was a “loser”. According to several reports, she had once been his friend and defended him when the bullying first started; when she became more popular in middle school, she left him behind. He found out she only pretended to like him only to gain personal information about him. She copied and pasted their private exchanges into other IMs among his schoolmates to embarrass and humiliate him. Mr Halligan said that he was proud of his son for sticking up for himself.
After the girl had called him a loser, Ryan Patrick Halligan said, “It’s girls like you who make me want to kill myself”. His father found out about this later because it was a matter of record with the local police.
On October 7, 2003, John Halligan was away on business. When family members were still sleeping early in the morning, Ryan Halligan committed suicide by hanging himself. His body was found later by his older sister.
Although Halligan left no suicide note, his father learned of CyberBullying when he accessed his son’s computer.
When he learned that Ashley was being blamed for Halligan’s suicide, the father had her brought over to his house. He reportedly said to her, “You did a bad thing, but you’re not a bad person”. She appeared with John Halligan on ABC Primetime to speak out against bullying. Although the Halligans moved out of Vermont, she still maintains contact with them.
He confronted the bully who had started the gay rumour after he found out he had made fun of how Halligan killed himself. At first, he was so angry he wanted to go to the boy’s house and “crush that little jerk,” but he had time to think while stuck in traffic. Halligan reportedly said to the boy, “You have no idea the amount of pain you caused my son. And you’re still bullying him now even when he’s defenceless and you are still lying to your parents about it. I refuse to believe that you are so cruel and that you don’t have a heart.” Shortly afterwards the bully broke down into tears and repeatedly apologized for what he did.