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When bullying goes too far

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He also spent a lot of time chatting with a girl from his school, Ashley, who told Ryan that she liked him. Back at school in the fall, Ryan thought she had a shot with Ashley. It turned out she and her friends were just playing a joke on him. “Ryan, you’re just a loser,” Halligan said Ashley told him in front of her friends. Ryan would share secrets with her and she would send those to her friends without his knowledge.

“I can’t imagine the pain and humiliation my son must have felt as those girls stood there and laughed at him,” Halligan said.

After Ryan’s death, Ashley stopped showing up for school, with other students blaming her for his suicide. Halligan said that he believes Ryan’s suicide was the result of an undetected illness — depression. “There was no way we could honestly blame this one person, one event,” Halligan said, adding that he has long forgiven Ashley. The two have also appeared together on national television to talk about the dangers of cyber-bullying.

As for the other bully, Halligan said, “I wanted to crush this kid.” He was talked out of driving to this kid’s house by his more level-headed wife. But a few months later, he learned the bully was still saying bad things about his now-dead son in school. That time, with his wife not home, he did drive to the kid’s house. His plan was for the kid to answer the door so Halligan could pull him out and throttle him. By the time he arrived, he had calmed down. The bully did answer the door. “He had no idea who I was,” Halligan said.

Halligan asked to speak with his parents. They sat down together in the living room. Halligan asked for the kid to be there, too, and when the bully learned who Halligan was, he looked like he was about to faint.

Initially, Halligan said, the bully denied his actions. Halligan said he refused to believe the boy was that heartless, and eventually the bully started crying and apologized. Halligan left the house, his only regret not doing that sooner. He has never seen the boy again.

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