Cyber-bullying warning: Halligan shares son’s tragic story

By Dan Berrett
Pocono Record
POCONO, Penn. — Four months ago, a presentation on the personal effects of bullying left many Stroudsburg students and parents teary-eyed and deeply moved.

Tonight, that speaker is coming back to the district, and this time, everyone from the area can come hear him.

John Halligan will give his account of how his 13-year-old son, Ryan, committed suicide Oct. 7, 2003, in Essex Junction, Vt., after being bullied by classmates at school and online.

Devastated, Halligan sorted through the puzzle of what made Ryan — whom he said had “a sweetness, a kindness, a gentleness” about him — take his own life.

By digging through his son’s online postings, reconstructing his own memories, and talking to those who bullied Ryan, Halligan pieced together the story of the boy’s suicide. It started with the pangs of adolescence and his son’s thwarted efforts to fit in and date one of the school’s most popular girls. These were buffeted by repeated bullying, both in person and online, and exacerbated by his son’s undiagnosed teen depression — leaving Ryan feeling that suicide was his only option. Full story.


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