COVINGTON, Ind. — Communities across central Indiana are mourning right now after two teens died by suicide just a few days apart.
On Monday, March 6, Terry Badger III died by suicide. His family has been dealing with the heartbreak in the days since.
”It hurts, it hurts bad,” said Tony Badger, Terry’s uncle.
Tony said he called Terry “T-Money” but the community called the 13-year-old “TB3.”
”TB3 was loved by everybody,” Tony said. “If you ever saw him, I mean, he put a smile on your face in a heartbeat.”
Tony said Terry was bullied, and that’s what led to him taking his own life.
”To be in that moment, to feel what he felt, I just can’t even imagine,” Tony said. “My heart is just broken for him.”
Terry went to Covington Middle School.
The Covington Community School Corporation released a statement, in part, saying the school is launching an immediate third-party investigation into the situation and allegations of Terry being bullied.
On Saturday, hundreds from the Covington community joined together to march in Terry’s honor.
”The love of and support of the community all around has been amazing,” Tony said.
Across central Indiana, another community came together the next day for one of their own.
”We decided to get together with the community, to pray over the school, faculty, the teachers, students,” said Jose Rivera, the pastor at Grace Wesleyan Church in Shelbyville.
On Sunday, Rivera and two other pastors brought more than a hundred people together in prayer in front of the Shelbyville Middle School. Rivera said earlier that week a student had died by suicide at the school.
Rivera said his daughter had one class with the 8th-grade student. He wants to bring awareness to bullying.
”Our parents, our churches, our community leaders, we need to say enough is enough and we need to do something,” Rivera said.
Shelbyville parents have reached out with concerns this death was related to bullying. Parents have also brought separate concerns about bullying in Shelbyville Middle School.
A statement from the Shelbyville Superintendent Dr. Matt Vance said, “There were no documented bullying claims brought to the attention of the school in relation to this tragedy.”
Rivera had this message for the family.
”We grieve with you, we don’t understand with you, we want to share our love and our prayers with you,” he said.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor Kimble Richardson with Community Health Network said parents need to talk to their children about bullying and suicide.
”All parents certainly have an opportunity, and I would say a responsibility, to talk to their children,” Richardson said. “To let them know, ‘I am a safe person, that you can come to me if you ever have a concern.'”
Tony Badger said it’s important for everyone to work together to fight back against bullying.
”We can’t allow this to another kid, it’s wrong,” Badger said. “They are babies. They shouldn’t be having to do this.”
Richardson said parents and students should use 988 if they are in a mental health crisis. Similar to 911, people can call it during a mental health or substance abuse emergency and be connected with a trained crisis call taker in Indiana.
Full statement from Shelbyville Superintendent Dr. Matt Vance:
“On Wednesday, Shelbyville Central Schools (SCS) suffered a tragedy with the passing of one of our 8th-grade students. Our thoughts and sympathies are with their family at this difficult time. We have and will continue to have grief support available at Shelbyville Middle School for students who may need any type of assistance surrounding this loss.
SCS takes its anti-bullying obligations very seriously. There were no documented bullying claims brought to the attention of the school in relation to this tragedy. All bullying claims are investigated in accordance with the schools Anti-Bullying Policy.
We are saddened by the loss to our school community and will make every effort to assist our students and staff during this difficult time.”Shelbyville Superintendent Dr. Matt Vance