A Pennsylvania family has written an emotional, heart-wrenching obituary for Sadie Riggs, a 15-year-old girl who hung herself after being tormented by bullies.
Sadie was from Bedford, Pennsylvania, and her family decided to make a statement against bullies in the heartbreaking obit.
Her death is highlighting the growing concerns of bullying among young people in a social media driven society, and family members hope Sadie’s suicide will start a movement against bullying. Wrote one woman on Facebook after reading the widely shared obit: “Didn’t know Sadie, but after reading her obituary I have tears in my eyes. Her life mattered. We must cause change! We must treat others with kindness. We must teach our children that our words matter. This philosophy is so simple, yet as a society we are obviously failing.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sadie’s Family Described Her as Troubled & Directly Addressed the Bullies Who Made Her Feel ‘Worthless’
Sadie’s family wrote the obit to “in an effort to debunk the rumors about Sadie’s death we would like to share this information,” the obituary on the Louis Geisel Funeral Home website says. The website had crashed because of the volume of traffic.
“Yes, Sadie took her own life, she hung herself. It is hard to fathom that someone so young could be so troubled. Sadie was seeking help, she was in counselling and taking medication, but it was all too much for such a young soul to live with,” the obit says.
The obit also said that “Sadie had a tough life and until a recent incident at school she handled everything life served her.” The obit challenged Sadie’s bullies directly. The obit starts, “Miss Sadie L. Riggs, 15, of Bedford, took her own life on Monday, June 19th, 2017.”
Here it is in full:
In an effort to debunk the rumors about Sadie’s death we would like to share this information. Yes, Sadie took her own life, she hung herself. It is hard to fathom that someone so young could be so troubled. Sadie was seeking help, she was in counselling and taking medication, but it was all too much for such a young soul to live with. If you take a minute and look at Sadie’s family dynamics you will see that a large percent of the people in her life were not not related to her by blood but she was sent to us by God who knew this child needed a family. Sadie had a tough life and until a recent incident at school she handled everything life served her. For a young lady so excited about going to the High School things sure went terribly wrong for her. For the bullies involved, please know you were effective in making her feel worthless. That is all between you and God now, but please know that it is not to late to change your ways. Sadie’s death has taken us to dark places, we will stick together and protect one another as we try to make sense of this tragic loss. To all the bullies out there, I just want you to know that as much as we despise your actions never, ever do we wish for you to feel the paralyzing pain that engulfs our bodies, a pain so severe that it makes the simple act of breathing difficult or the guilt that leaves us wondering what we could have done differently-or that struggle to remember the last words we spoke…Our hearts are beyond broken. Sadie, it was a privilege to have you in our lives and we will always love you. May you find peace in the arms of God and may we all be kind to one another.
In lieu of flowers, the obit says, “the family of Sadie ask that you be kind to one another.”
2. Sadie Was Living With Her Maternal Aunt, Who Wrote That She Was Crushed by the Girl’s Death
According to PennLive, Riggs was living with a maternal aunt at the time of her death.
Her funeral was scheduled for Saturday, June 24 in Bedford, Pennsylvania. She is survived by her father, Eric Riggs, her stepmother, Alicia Smith, of Bedford, her biological mother, Beverly (Dodson) Riggs of Hopewell, and by her maternal aunt, Sarah Smith, according to the obit.
Smith wrote on Facebook, “Ily baby girl see u again someday soon!!!”
She also wrote in one heartbreaking message, “Sadie Riggs i need u here with me!! Im setting in this house just thinking about all the things we did together! I cant get the image of u out of my head!!! I nees (sic) u here plz sadie come wake me up from this nasty nightmare im having!!! I love u so dang much the day u died i died with u!! Ill see u soon ilysm u will awlays be my *sj*”
In message after message, Sadie’s aunt wrote about how much the teen meant to her, filling her Facebook page with photos of Sadie. There is no question that Sadie was loved.
“I love u so much Sadie Riggs ill b with u soon!! Im so crushed and hurt!! All i can do is cry amd set under ur tree plz for me sadie keep am eye on me bc i need to know ur with me at all times!!! Ur my reason for living im sorry i left to go in town i should of stayed with u!! Im sorry i let u down. I wish i could go back amd (sic) redo this all!! I need and want u in my life!!!” she wrote.
3. Sadie Was a Cook at Pizza Hut Who Was Still in High School & Loved Music & Reading
According to her Facebook page, Sadie worked at Pizza Hut and attended Bedford Senior High School. Her obit says, “Sadie was a member of the Solid Rock Christian Fellowship Church in Bedford. She played softball and loved reading, drawing and music. Sadie was a sweet and loving girl and she will be greatly missed.”
Sadie’s page didn’t have many public posts. She posted photos of animals and of selfies, mostly.
The high school that Sadie attended has made counselors available and the superintendent vowed to become more successful in dealing with bullies. Sadie was in the 9th grade.
The superintendent, Dr. Allen Sell, told WJAC-TV, “One of our jobs as a school district is to try everything we can to prevent anyone from feeling that way. We would hope to be more successful.”
He told the television station that the school takes bullying reports seriously: “For example, every one of our teachers is trained in a program called youth-mental health. They’re trained to recognize the signs of suicide and depression and other things that cause issues and may or may not be the result of bullying.”
4. Local Businesses Have Urged People to ‘Be Kind For Sadie’s Sake’
Sadie’s tragic death has moved the community. Smith, her aunt, posted this photo of a local business on Facebook:
Smith wrote, “Omg tysm true value sadie ur gonna make a big change in so many ppls lives!!!”
5. Sadie’s Death Comes as Bullying Has Caused Other Tragedies
In New Jersey, friends of 12-year-old Mallory Grossman say she died by suicide after being bullied, although authorities have not confirmed that account, which was widely reported in New York and New Jersey media. Mallory’s mother shared a graphic against bullying on her Facebook page, and her friends wore blue to protest bullying after her sudden death at home.
In Canada, Jolynn Winter, Chantel Fox and Jenera Roundsky, all 12, died by suicide since January 2017 in what was a possible suicide pact in Wapekeka, an aboriginal community.
In 2016, Katelyn Nicole Davis, of Polk County, Ga., streamed her suicide on social media. She was also 12.
Gabriel Taye, an 8-year-old Ohio boy, also died by suicide after being bullied.