The Bullycide Project is based on the book Bullycide in America, complied by Brenda High and written by mothers who have lost a child to suicide due to excessive bullying. I was introduced to this book by Kevin and Tammy Epling about three years ago. As I read it, I immediately felt that this would be an effective and thought-provoking performance piece that would help create further awareness of the term bullycide.
When Mott Children’s Health Center contacted me about a performance piece to complement its Tuuri Day Conference and this year’s theme of Reducing Youth Violence, immediately my thoughts went to Bullycide in America and the process of writing The Bullycide Project. Once I received permission from Brenda High and all the parents involved with the book, as well as from family members who told additional stories of bullycide, the research began. Many of the cast members and I traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota and to Portage and Cadillac, Michigan to interview family members, teachers, and friends of the individuals portrayed in the book. We also conducted phone and online interviews with parents. We were given photos, books of poetry, and personal items that belonged to these students; many of the items are used in this evening’s performance.
This project and the process has been extraordinary. I would have never thought that a woman like me, along with 25 other individuals of all ages, would be sitting across from some incredibly brave, strong, and empowering parents who spoke to us with complete honesty and emotion. Witnessing their courage and conviction was the most awe-inspiring moment for me and the actors representing the stories in THE BULLYCIDE PROJECT.
All of us involved with this project have grown and become better listeners, communicators, and people. This project has forced us to look beyond our own trials and tribulations and to funnel our focus to a cause much larger than ourselves.