Ryan Halligan’s Story – An Assembly to Remember

Jake Jodzio

Ryan Halligan was a young boy who committed suicide in 2003, and now his father travels all around the world to tell his son’s story to try and prevent others from doing the same thing.  John Halligan made a special stop here at EHS just this week, but his message will definitely linger.

In preparation for Halligan’s visit, emails were sent home, and Denise Connon, EHS’s Student Assistance Counselor, gave a brief talk about Ryan and the assembly during gym class. She spoke about how to try to recognize the warning signs of someone who is considering suicide, and how to help them. She said there are a few red flags to look for, and to tell someone as soon as you notice them.

The signs to look for are:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness, often accompanied by anxiety
  • Declining school performance
  • Loss of pleasure/interest in social and sports activities
  • Sleeping too little or too much 
  • Changes in weight or appetite

Because it’s such a sensitive topic, students were able to opt out of watching John Halligan’s presentation, and they could sit in the media center instead of the auditorium.

The assembly took place on the morning of October 26th, and was about 1 hour and 15 minutes long. Different grades had it at different times. 

At the assembly, Ryan’s dad talked about his son’s whole life story, and how he was bullied into killing himself. He shared a slide presentation set to music, as well as his agonizing tale.  Halligan said he didn’t know anything about his son being bullied, and that he and his wife were both surprised and heartbroken when he died. Then he talked about how to try and prevent people from committing suicide in the future, and encouraged students to practice kindness and forgiveness, and be upstanders instead of bystanders.

There was also a follow-up talk during the Cavo Strong period the day after.  Teachers and students were provided with handouts that asked them to list what they had gotten from the presentation, and even asked what they would say if they could speak with Ryan’s father.

Counselors were on standby for those who needed them.,

For more information, go to https://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/