How not to handle a student suicide

(Editorial note: I’m going to try not to rush these, but I’ve got a pretty big backlog to work through. Some of these posts may have lost some of their timeliness, as I have had things to deal with which have taken huge chunks out of the time I would normally use for blogging. Hopefully I’ll be back to “normal” in a few weeks.)

A recent post in a The Stir tells the story of Tyler Nichols, an eighth grader who took his own life in March of this year. According to another article at, the principal of the school (Davidson Middle School in Michigan) claimed the school didn’t include his picture because they did not have a picture of him. However, his mother says Tyler took a picture earlier in the year and had a picture taken for a new identification card as well.

In a particularly cruel twist, Tyler’s mother was told that a tribute page in the yearbook might have been forthcoming. Then they completely omitted all traces of Tyler’s life at school that year from the yearbook. You shouldn’t need me to tell you just how outrageous and how stupid this is.

At a time in which suicide, and particularly teen suicide, is a growing problem, it reduces awareness and is a huge bet on the side of “ignore the problem and it will go away.”

I believe it will not go away just because it’s ignored. And on that note, I believe the school has chosen to handle the situation in a completely wrong way on just about every level imaginable. I don’t care how much revisionist history goes into it, but there are people who will remember Tyler for the good kid that he was. Those that don’t know he killed himself need to know this, not have it swept under the rug or even given a Noodle Incident treatment.

I found a news story on about Tyler’s suicide in which it says Tyler was not bullied. I had originally written a version of this post in which I had mistakenly assumed that he was. This story says everyone thought he was a good kid and the real reason why he took his own life is a mystery to many of the kids and teachers at the school.

Shame on Davidson Middle School for trying to snuff out Tyler’s memory. This is disgraceful and reflects badly on not just the school, but upon our entire school system nationwide in the US.