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John Halligan to bring anti-bullying message to Guilderland Schools

February 29, 2016—John Halligan lost his son, Ryan, to suicide on October 7, 2003 when Ryan was 13 years old. At the time of his death, Ryan was a student at a middle school in Vermont. Saved online conversations revealed that Ryan was ridiculed and humiliated by peers at school and online.

In memory of his son, Mr. Halligan spearheaded the passage of the Vermont Bullying Prevention law in 2004. He also successfully led the passage of a law in 2006 that mandated suicide prevention education be part of the public school curriculum.

Mr. Halligan has taken his message about the need for more education aimed to prevent bullying, cyberbullying and teen suicide to communities throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America. He and his wife Kelly have appeared on several national television programs, including “Primetime with Diane Sawyer,” PBS’s “Frontline” and “Oprah.”

Mr. Halligan will bring Ryan’s story to Farnsworth Middle School and Guilderland High School students on Tuesday, March 15 during two separate presentations. His powerful story aims to remind students that there is a face, a person, a heart, on the other end of the computer screen. Students will also gain awareness about the signs and risks of teenage suicide and how best to help a friend. During his presentations, Mr. Halligan says that he does not get into the specifics of his son’s death nor will he make an overly simplistic connection between bullying and suicide.

“I always make the point that I believe, in the end, my son died of an illness called depression that tragically went undetected and untreated,” Mr. Halligan said on his website, [].

Mr. Halligan will also present a program for parents at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 16, at Mohonasen High School. The presentation, titled “If I Could Have a Do-Over,” will focus on adolescent emotional wellbeing, suicide prevention and mental health. Due to the mature content of Mr. Halligan's parent presentation, child care will be provided. If you need childcare, RSVP with the number of children and their ages to Kathleen Sacks, or Colleen Ellison, 356-8322.



FMS Letter to Parents
GHS Letter to Parents
John Halligan Parent Program
John Halligan's Website