“I lost my son Coby in March of 2016 to suicide. It was very unexpected. He was not someone that we knew was suffering from any type of mental illness,” said Rachelle St. Phard.
Coby was 18-years-old, popular in school, and a soccer star who had plans of playing in college after graduation.
“The school gave us a box of memories after he passed away and a lot of what they talked about was how he was a light to other people, and that’s why it was such a shock,” St. Phard said.
Mallory Grossman was 12-years-old. She was a cheerleader and a gymnast with an active social life.
“But unfortunately there were four girls at school that decided to put a target on her back,” said Mallory’s mother, Dianne Grossman. “They escalated their hate to the cyberspace. … It was the night before that she came to us and came clean with everything and then the next day I went to the school, I was in the school three hours that day begging them to take it serious and fighting with them to understand the gravity of it, brought Mallory home and three hours later she was gone.”
The CDC says since the 1940s suicide among teens and young adults has nearly tripled. That’s why Gov. Richard Codey says his foundation wants to go into schools to give specialized training workshops to support staff.
“The lunch lady, the security guard, the janitor because they have contact with the kids that the teachers don’t have,” St. Phard said.
The former governor also wants to see more mental health specialized counselors in schools. That’s why he’s calling for legislation to create a $1 million grant within the New Jersey Department of Education for districts to hire more staff.
“The next thing we’re going to do is, I’ve spoken to the Department of Health, they are going to create a task force on teenage suicide,” Codey said.
Both mothers shared their story for people to understand how important it is to have a conversation with your child before it hits a crisis level.
“He looked like he had it all together, but that’s the thing. He looked like he had it all together,” St. Phard said. “You need to ask that person if they’re OK because they may be hiding something that they’re afraid to talk about.”
Grossman says her daughter killed herself just 12 hours after she found out the magnitude of the bullying.
“I like to believe she sees the good work that we’re doing,” Grossman tearfully said.