Students take aim at bullying after teen's suicide - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Students take aim at bullying after teen's suicide

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Grief counselors are being made available to students in Greenwich this week after a 15-year-old student took his own life on the first day of school.

Friends said bullying may have been a factor in the death of Bart Palosz, however, school officials have not confirmed those reports.

An investigation into the tragic event is now underway.

A friend of Bart said he was targeted by bullies for years and had written an ominous message on a social media profile requesting a certain song to be played during his burial.

In recent weeks, his posts discussed suicidal thoughts on social media pages.

Bart was slammed into lockers and endured consistent bullying, according to friends that talked with Eyewitness News.

"He was bullied by a lot of kids," said friend Tripp Woll. "I would sometimes see him sitting alone at lunch, and sometimes it would even be physical."

Portrayed as a socially awkward outsider, Woll said Bart never truly connected with others and soon became a target.

Grief counselors were on hand at Greenwich High School, and also at Western Middle School, where Bart previously attended.

Bart's suicide made senior class vice president Elias Frank feel sick to his stomach. So, he formed a group called GHS Connections to help prevent more tragedies in the future.  

"I just didn't want to go to school and I pretty much gave myself two options: don't go to school or make a change," said Frank, who is the founder of GHS Connections.

It hasn't even been 24 hours, and the group called GHS Connections on Facebook has almost 200 members.  

"This girl, she came up to me," Frank said. "She didn't come up to a teacher, she didn't come up to an advisor. She came up to somebody who has been in a situation. I've been bullied in the past and I can relate to that."

Frank said students are more comfortable talking to other students than teachers. It's a judgement free group that promotes acceptance and dialogue amongst troubled teens.

"Now that we're under this crisis I feel like people are even more available to reach out to others," Frank said.

Frank said he'll be meeting with school administrators Friday to make the group official and they can work on holding events in the future as well.

"I can't change what has happened but I can change what may happen," Frank said.

Students at Greenwich High School were told about the incident Wednesday morning when the principal announced it over the intercom.

"He said that if there's anyone that they need to talk to, we have trained staff at the school 24/7," said Gregory Ghahramani, a senior at Greenwich High School.

Youth suicides are getting to be a big problem in America. It's the third leading cause of death for youths with 81 percent of deaths being males and nearly half committed with firearms.

A chart from a board report by the deputy superintendent shows the number of bullying investigations and confirmed cases in all the schools from 2010 through 2013. Last year, there were a total of 29 reports.

There is no word if Bart had been involved in any of them. The school told Eyewitness News they've had a strict bullying and cyber bullying policy in place and it can result in suspension or even expulsion.

But in light of the sophomore's death, they will take a look at it again. Others suggest, there needs to be more done within the student body.

"If the kids don't talk about it with the other kids, it's never going to get anywhere because these kids figure it's not cool to talk about your problems or what you're going through," said Patrick Marr, a former Greenwich High School student.

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