Mother to share message on cyber bullying

Published 3:33 pm Monday, September 12, 2011

On Thursday, Rebecca Ellis will be coming to Fort Dale Academy to share her story in hopes to send a message.

At 6:30 p.m., Ellis will be telling the story about how her son, Cole Ellis, committed suicide on Oct. 26, 2009 because of cyber bullying.

“Since that time, I’ve been speaking to students about the pressures that they have on a daily basis,” Ellis said. “Technology is something we never had to deal with when we were growing up. Technology can affect those kids today who are high achievers.”

According to Ellis, Cole was in 8th grade and was a leader in his school.

“[He was] an encourager, very athletic, and he touched and impacted our community so strongly, people have asked us to share our story,” she said.

According to Ellis, she will be telling her story from the point of who Cole was and what led up to the point and time.

“Basically, it’s for people to understand that it can happen to anybody,” Ellis said. “Suicide touches all sorts of social-economic groups and racial groups. It doesn’t pick and chose. That’s what impacted people the most with our loss. What we thought was the perfect family, everything was going great, he had everything life had to offer and still things crept into his life that was too much to handle.”

As far as giving advice, or giving exact details on how to prevent suicide, Ellis can’t give an exact formula.

“That’s what a lot of people look to us for, but there were no signs,” Ellis said. “It seemed to be one of those irrational moments. He was such a rational child, adult like, and the first irrational decision was, sadly, no turning back on. I’m not here to get advice, but it’s what people can take from our story.”

As far as how the Ellis family has moved on, she said she would love to take every piece of technology and throw it out the window.

“I do read my children’s texts, we do have a computer, and we have the controls on our computer and phones,” Ellis said. “But there are delete buttons, and as parents, we can’t see everything.”

Ellis has two daughters, and because of what happened, the girls have learned from that experience.

“I can’t protect my children from everything out in the world, and I couldn’t protect my son,” Ellis said. “We live differently now as a family and our girls think about it when they’re on their phones. They can’t help but think about it. We’ve learned from our experience, and I hope others can learn from us too.”

Ellis would like to see and help more schools implement programs that can help students with this issue.

“What schools can institute in their schools might help kids to have some kind of accountability partner,” Ellis said. “Our school does an anonymous hotline, so if something is going on with them, they can report it without giving their name. We’re in the developing stage of putting something in schools. We just want to educate our children.”

The main point of the session is for Ellis to share and have others share back so that a conversation can be started.

“I don’t think we ever think it’ll happen to us, and I certainly did not,” Ellis said. “There are others just like us that could be walking this journey. In our community, we’ve buried a lot of children in the past two years. It is just time we take a look at this issue. It may take many people together brainstorming to stand up in how to make a difference, and we certainly can’t make a difference if we don’t talk about it.”