A 16-year-old sophomore committed suicide by hanging in Texas on January 4. His brother said in a viral Facebook post that David Molak took his own life after he suffered relentless bullying over his physical appearance. That social media message, written by Cliff Molak, has garnered national media attention to the issue of cyber and texting bullying. Police in San Antonio are now investigating the accusations of bullying, which was done primarily through Instagram, according to Molak’s family. One shocking message, according Cliff Molak, read, “We’re going to put him six feet under.” Another said that a group was “going to put him in a body bag.” His brother added that the attacks started eight months ago.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. In His Facebook Post, Cliff Molak Said His Brother’s Suicide Was Prompted by ‘a Boy Whom I Will Not Further Empower by Naming’
In his touching Facebook post, Cliff Molak wrote, “What happened to my beloved brother was a tragedy. A tragedy set into motion by a boy whom I will not further empower by naming.” He added:
We’ve all heard the word bullying and we’ve all had to attend those stupid mandatory anti-bullying classes or seminars. I don’t know anyone, including myself, who actually paid any heed to what the lecturers had to say. To me they were a waste of time. Time away from athletics or homework or any other more appealing or less redundant activity. In hindsight, I wish more than anything people had actually listened.
In an interview with the San Antonio Express-News, Cliff Molak said his brother had started a relationship with a girl known as the “queen bee” of their high school. That’s something that his “tormentors” hated, according to Cliff Molak.
Cliff Molak wrote on Facebook that on the night before his brother died, January 3, Molak had received more bullying messages as he had been added into a text message group. Cliff wrote, “He stared off into the distance for what seemed like an hour. I could feel his pain. It was a tangible pain.” Cliff then took aim at the evolution of bullying, saying, “In today’s age, bullies don’t push you into lockers, they don’t tell their victims to meet them behind the school’s dumpster after class. They cower behind user names and fake profiles from miles away constantly berating and abusing good, innocent people.”
The rest of the post read:
Freedom is a beautiful thing, however as freedom and personal liberties expand (and they rapidly are), there needs to be an equal expansion of personal accountability. Right now there is no expansion of personal accountability. The households and the school systems are failing.
The only way to end the suffering in this nation whether it be from bullying or discrimination is not to highlight differences between groups of people, but to focus on the importance of accountability and ultimately character.
The only way to heal this country and our communities is to accept and embrace the notion that we have to begin character building from the ground up before the elementary level or our society will never recover.
In a separate interview with the San Antonio News-Express, Cliff said, “The main message I want to get across to as many people as I can is this all comes down to character — to end bullying, you’ve got to start at the ground level.”
2. Molak’s Parents Had Just Transferred Him to a Private School, But the Bullying Persisted
The San Antonio News-Express reports that this was not the first time that Molak had attempted suicide. In one previous incident he had tried to kill himself with over-the-counter pills. On Molak’s Facebook page in 2014, he posted that he had graduated out of Alamo Heights High School.
Cliff Molak told the newspaper that in response to the bullying, his parents had taken his brother out of Alama Heights High School and transferred him to the San Antonio Christian Academy, a private school. Cliff says, “He just couldn’t handle the idea of going to a new school while still being bullied by people at his old school, they just sucked his spirit.”
School superintendent Kevin Brown told the San Antonio News-Express, “Right now, we don’t know all the facts of the case and we’re really trying to help our students through the grieving process, we’re working on healing. We will be looking at the facts as they become available to us and we will take very strong and appropriate action.”
3. His Funeral Was Held on the Morning of January 8 in San Antonio
According to his obituary, Molak’s funeral was held in San Antonio at the Christ Episcopal Church on January 8. His obit details Molak’s love of the San Antonio Spurs and how he enjoyed being an Eagle Scout. The tribute reads in part:
David never passed up on an opportunity for an outdoor adventure or a chance to dominate his family in Monopoly.
His infectious smile and sharp wit entertained his peers to the dismay of his teachers, but all in good fun.
KENS reports that Molak’s family says everybody is welcome to the service. In an interview with that station, Cliff Molak recited an anecdote he heard about his brother:
One day she’s sitting at her desk putting on makeup. David turns around to her and says, ‘What are you doing? You don’t need that.’ She told me that her self-esteem has never had such a boost.
4. Just Prior to His Death, Molak Had Been Named ‘Athlete of the Month’ at His Local Gym
On his Facebook page, Molak talked about wanting to study sports management at the University of Texas at Austin. His profile photo shows him wearing a San Antonio Spurs t-shirt and has a cover image showing the team’s badge.
KSAT reports that Molak had
“recently” been chosen as Athlete of the Month at the North Side gym, where he was a founding member. Cliff Molak told the station that after that award, his brother’s spirits were raised and “he was getting better.” The gym posted a tribute to David Molak on their website, saying that he “relished the moments he could claim a victory over his dad.”
5. The ‘Main Bully’ Refused to Wear Black-and-White in Tribute to Molak on January 6
Speaking to KSAT, District Attorney Nico LaHood said that the incident is being investigated and that as it’s harassment, it’s a Class B misdemeanor. Meanwhile, Cliff Molak told the station that social media “can be used for good an evil.” KENS reports that the “main bully” has been suspended by Alamo Heights High School. Though the ABC affiliate shockingly reported that on January 6, while every other student at Alamo wore black and white in tribute to Molak, the “main bully” wore neon colors.
Recently, Twitter announced that the company is taking a tougher stance on cyber bullying. However, that comes as another app, After School, is on the rise. That service allows student to post anonymous messages about students online, leading to fears that it will be used for bullying.