It claims more than 4,600 lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While bullying is not the sole cause for suicides within this age range, it is often a factor, with nearly 49% of 4th to 12th grade students report feeling victimized by their peers. An expert on bullying causes and solutions, Gabriella van Rij is uniquely positioned to talk about this epidemic. “As someone who has gone, school in school out, throughout North America, I can definitely say suicide is an epidemic of this era. And this is happening with children as young as 7 years old.”
“Everyone I talk with about student suicides seem unconcerned because it has not affected them yet. If it does not hit close to home, it is hard for others to truly show compassion and empathy because they cannot comprehend that their child would do something like this. And then, when it hits close to home, it comes as a shock.” What’s the solution? Gabriella says, “Blame is not a cure. Action is.”
In 2014, Gabriella took action by producing and directing a documentary titled, Our Silence Is Complicity: Today’s Students Suffer Behind Closed Doors to raise awareness on this issue. Through interviews with students and parents, Gabriella provides a window into the emotional battlefield that students across the US must navigate, all of which is magnified by an online social climate where people will do or say anything to gain attention.