CHATSWORTH, GA (WRCB) -- The Chatsworth Police Department says it will not bring any criminal charges for events leading up to the death of Tyler Long. Police detectives conducted the investigation at the request of his family into allegations of threats and bullying against Tyler.
The Department issued a statement, offering condolences to the Long family on their loss.
UPDATE: November 13th
The Chatsworth Police Department is now looking into the final days of Tyler Long.
David and Tina Long spoke to the Murray County School Board and said police are looking at school surveillance video for evidence of bullying. They've also interviewed students.
We'll keep you posted on the status of this investigation.
CHATSWORTH, GA (WRCB)- A Murray County couple is speaking out about their son's recent suicide. David and Tina Long first brought their story to Channel 3 Eyewitness News to say their 17-year-old son Tyler was a victim of bullying; and his school, Murray County High, didn't do enough to stop it.
Tyler had been diagnosed with symptoms of autism when he was a child, and was more recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Tina Long said, "Tyler was unable to detect when someone was kidding or joking with him. He was unable to comprehend certain facial expressions and body language. Some kids knew this and took advantage of him, and it sometimes led to fights or other disputes. He was a good student, good with computers, loved karate and ROTC. But the Asperger's Syndrome was a difficult part of his life."
A DIFFICULT DAY AT SCHOOL
The Longs say their son was bullied and picked on from 5th Grade until he took his life on October 17. The previous day, they said, was particularly difficult for him. He came home from school that Friday evening, and retired to his room. The next morning, his father and younger brother found him dead. He had hanged himself.
The couple say they spent much of Tyler's middle and high school years meeting with Murray County School administrators, warning them that Tyler was being bullied, and needed help. Tina Long says, "They got tired of us coming around, they called me the "B-word. We'd go to meetings, and the people who were supposed to be there, didn't show up. We were told we could get a Big Brother for him, or a Para-professional to watch after him. It never happened. We would complain about bullying and they would tell us that boys will be boys. We'd ask how he was doing, they would say he was just fine."
But the Longs knew better. They say Tyler dreaded the start of school each year, and was overjoyed at school starting several weeks late this year due to budget cuts. They say he killed himself because "he couldn't take it any more. He was tired of the pain."
MURRAY COUNTY SCHOOLS RESPOND
They say they have e-mailed Murray County Superintendent Vickie Reed to request a meeting, but she has not replied. David said, "There's so much they could do to help victims of bullying, but they're not doing anything, and that bothers me."
Dean Donehoo, Director of Administrative Services for Murray County Schools, issued this statement to Eyewitness News:
"The Long family has suffered a terrible tragedy. The sympathies of the Murray County School System are extended to this family as they face this difficult time of loss.
Under provisions of law, information about students and their schooling is strictly protected and confidential. While our sympathies extend to the family we simply cannot comment on any matters that are protected by legally imposed confidentialities."
The Longs say they are hurt that Murray Co. High "has not even done a moment of silence for Tyler. They will not mention him at an assembly. They say they don't want to glorify him," said Tina.
WHY SPEAK OUT?
They say they're speaking out "because that's all we can do for him now." David says, "I know most people want to pretend suicide doesn't happen, but it does. And a lot of people don't want to acknowledge the seriousness of bullying and what it can lead to, but we've experienced it, and we don't want anyone else to go through what we have."
The Longs say, "Parents have legal rights when they have children with disabilities, but many school districts don't want you to know that. We're self-taught, like a lot of others. If you don't ask for help, you sure won't get it. We asked for help, repeatedly, and got a little bit, but not what Tyler needed, and not what he was entitled to."
THE BULLYING CONTINUES
Sadly, they say the bullying and harassment have continued since Tyler's death. They say his two younger siblings, both 14, still deal with it every day. Tina said, "A boy at school drew a noose around Tyler's picture, and my daughter saw it. Was he punished for it? No, an assistant principal said the boy didn't mean anything by it. That's the kind of response Tyler got when he was alive."
David Long said, "If someone came up to me and said they were having problems being bullied, I would see to it that it stopped right then, no questions asked. But at school, they just talk to them, not punish them. They give bullies so many opportunities before anything is addressed in a serious manner."
The Longs say they would gladly visit schools and talk to students about the effects of bullying, and their personal tragedy, "but most schools probably wouldn't want to hear what we have to say. I wish they knew that unless they take this more seriously, and make it a higher priority, it's just going to get worse. If not suicide, then someone is going to get seriously hurt. And it seems like they're only worried about keeping it off the news."
David said, "I'm not going to say I blame Murray County Schools for Tyler's suicide, but I will say their negligence was a major contributor." Tina concluded, "If the schools were doing what they were supposed to do, which is ensure a safe environment for all students, we would not be in this position. They dropped the ball."
HOW TO HELP, OR GET HELP
Suicide prevention help is available at 1-800-704-2651.The Longs have requested anyone who has information about their son's treatment at school, or bullying of any other students to call or text 706-847-1452, or go to email@example.com. You don't have to leave a name. Also a fund has been set up at ComTrust Federal Credit Union, PO Box 737, Chatsworth, GA 30705 (1-800-835-6070), which goes to Autism Speaks in Memory of Tyler Long.
The Longs also say they have discovered they're not alone; that Tyler was a victim of "bullycide." They say it's a word that has been coined by families who have suffered similar losses. More info is available at www.bullycide.org.
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