More people die in America every day from suicide than are murdered. Almost 37,000 people took their own lives in 2012, leaving psychologists scrambling to find out what triggers this sort of desperation.
The fact that the victims are getting younger by the day, is not only befuddling, but also terrifying. Today's young generation faces social pressures that parents find hard, if not impossible, to understand.
But, one mother is taking her message all the way to Washington, hoping that at least one element of the "why" behind suicide can be squashed.
"He was a wonderful person. He was an honor roll student. He loved the Lord. He was a Christian. But he couldn't handle what was happening at school. And one day, he just got tired and took his own life in our home," says Sirdeaner Lynn Walker.
He was 11-year-old Carl Walker. His mother, as only another mother could understand, is still tortured, believing that she did everything she could, while wondering, what more she could have done.
"I knew almost from the beginning that something was wrong. But when I confronted him or asked him about it, he was reluctant. But he finally told me that the kids were calling him names," says Walker. "When I asked the school when I thought there was a problem and I said, ‘it looks like the 6th graders are picking on one another, what's going to be done?' Well you know what they said? ‘It always happens in 6th grade. But by the time they get into the 7th grade, they become the best of friends.' My son didn't live to see the 7th grade."
Suicide is now the 3rd leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24. That's more than cancer and more than murder.
And since her son's death, Sirdeaner is doing what she can to be there for other parents and other children, trying to keep them from suffering this unimaginable pain.
She travels the country, talking to schools, church groups, and anyone else who will listen, hoping to convince Congress that bullying and its consequences are becoming an epidemic we can't afford.
"And I am trying, till my last breath and my dying day, to get the Safe Schools Improvement Act passed which would be federal anti-bullying legislation…It's a very difficult bill to pass because part of the bill calls for enumerated categories of protection. So those kids who would be most at risk, would be protected. And when you say enumerated categories of protection, that means race, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression and identity. And in some parts of the country, in many parts of the country, some people struggle with sexual orientation and expression being part of federal legislation."
While her focus is on a son's legacy that was never fulfilled, Sirdeaner's compassion extends not only to tormented, but also for the tormentors.
"We need to help those bullies. Because there's something wrong when you wake up and you feel better about bullying another child. There's something wrong in that person's life. And if we don't reach out to that child, statistics show, that they will end up in the system…This is not a gay issue. This is not a straight issue. This is not a race issue or religious issue. This is about safety. This is about what type of environment we want our children to go to school in."