GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Be nice.
It may seem like a simple message, but experts say it can go a long way toward stopping bullying. And 1400 students in Grandville spelled out that message, as did other schools in the area on Friday.
Statistically, one in four students will be the victim of a bully, and on average, it happens every seven minutes nationwide.
The message couldn't be more clear to Matt Carpenter. During his freshman year, his best friend committed suicide.
"Well, I always knew he was bullied a little bit," Carpenter said of his friend. "He was so funny. ... He stayed home that Monday and I never saw him again."
The fact he may never know the pain and anguish his friend was suffering haunts him. But, he said, it makes the point of "be nice" even stronger.
"The way I see it, Jeff died because of bullying throughout his entire life. He was bullied from elementary school. So today is about being nice to people no matter who they are or what they are or what they act like or what they do or who they hang around with, because you never really know what someone is going through."
The effort was organized by the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. They say bullying does not cause suicide, but it may be the trigger for someone who is already depressed.
Future campaigns will use aerial photos of the students around the region. But there may be no better spokesperson than Matt Carpenter.
Students from these schools formed a message to "be nice." --
- Grandville Middle School
- Grandville High School
- Grandview Elementary School in Grandville
- Century Park Learning Center in Grandville
- Cedar Springs Middle School
- Forest Hills Central Middle School
- Timberland Charter Academy in Muskegon
- West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids
"We are losing children to suicide because they were bullied, it really was because they were depressed caused and triggered by being bullied," Christy Buck, executive director of the Mental Health Foundation, told 24 Hour News 8.
For more information on how you can participate -- MHF@cherryhealth.com
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