Bullying is still prevalent in America’s schools. It may take the form of physical intimidation, name calling in class, or abusive social media posts, but one thing is for sure – it always causes profound damage. That was the experience of 12-year-old Cherish Houle, who killed herself on the last day in March, after what her family described as “intense bullying at school.”
In a heartbreaking obituary to their daughter, Cherish’s family sought to portray the gritty and “ugly truth” of bullying with a view to “prevent tragedies such as this from happening again.” The obituary caught the attention of CNN’s Jake Tapper even tweeted out the link. You can read it the full, heartbreaking text below.
“A 12-year-old girl took her own life in Bismarck, N.D., on Saturday. Her obituary didn’t hold anything back.” https://t.co/sY5Wksza2z
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 5, 2018
“Cherish “Chance” was born on July 17, 2005, in Minot, ND, to Nathan Houle and Jessica Chiefstick. She grew up in Minot and began attending school there. In 2009, Cherish and her family moved to Bismarck where she continued her education in Bismarck. Most recently, she was attending the 7th grade in Bismarck.
Cherish was an uplifting person to be around, always concerned for the well-being of those around her. She always had a smile on her face and loved nothing more than to make people laugh. Cherish was very close to her family and enjoyed talking to people about her siblings and parents and loved them deeply. She loved to draw and listen to music.
Cherish experienced intense pain most people her age will never know. Throughout the last 6 months of her life, she experienced continual transition and intense bullying at school. While the news is currently highlighting violence as the result of bullying. Cherish’s support systems saw a very different result. Those who loved Cherish didn’t know how unbearable that pain she was experiencing had become for her. The support and love she was able to receive from those around her wasn’t enough to heal the scars of the relentless bullying she had already suffered. Cherish didn’t harm others or turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with her pain, she took her life on March 31st, 2018.
The word bullying doesn’t begin to encompass ugliness and pain it causes. The ugly truth of bullying is someone who loved Cherish had to open the bedroom door and see what they saw on Saturday. The ugly truth of bullying is those who loved Cherish can’t close their eyes at night because they can’t get the image out of their head. The ugly truth of bullying is doing CPR for 4 minutes and 26 seconds. It’s listening to 911 operator tell you to go faster and push harder. It’s knowing that you didn’t open the door early enough for it to matter anyway. It’s that Cherish isn’t here anymore.
The Houle/Chiefstick family lost a beautiful member of their family. Cherish was a beautiful soul who no longer has to suffer pain and rejection here on Earth.
Cherish’s family and support systems want the public to be aware of her situation in hopes that it will prevent tragedies such as this from occurring again. They are asking that parents talk to their children and find out answers to hard question. Are they being bullied? Are they the bully? Have they witnessed bullying and it broke their heart, but they were glad they weren’t the target today? Did they not know what to do and walked away? Or joined in the laughter because they didn’t want to attract the attention of other bullies in the crowd. We are asking you to teach your children that our words are our most powerful resource and we need to be careful to use that precious resource to positively affect people. Teach your children what to do if someone they know is talking about suicide. Teach them who to call for help.
To those of you who were kind to Cherish, thank you. Your love and acceptance meant the world to her. To Cherish, thank you for coming into all our lives. We are all much better for it. Fly high and carry our love forever. You will be greatly missed.
She is survived by her mom, Jessica; her dad, Nathan; siblings, Santana, Sonte, Maliyah, Nathan Jr., and Yuri; her grandmas, Marina Cheifstick and Judy Nelson; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her grandpas, Leon Houle and Noble Mooseamen; her aunts, Deena and Kristen; and her uncle, Leslie.
Visitation will be held Thursday, April 5, 2018, from 10am-12 Noon at Eastgate Funeral Service, 2302 E Divide Ave., in Bismarck, ND.”
“I have a lot of questions like “why?” and “Why didn’t she just message me?” said Cherish’s Aunt, Summer Nelson, as reported by WDAY 6. Nelson said that while Cherish was usually chatty and upbeat, she had begun to spiral over the last few months. “She messaged randomly and we talked for hours but then recently she just kind of drifted and we didn’t stop talking but she like kind of pushed people away,” said Nelson.
“It wasn’t just bullying, but there was home problems to and growing up it was a tough situation,” added the Aunt. “If I would’ve gotten a hold of her and told her that her dad’s going to be home soon within the end of this month, I think it would’ve probably changed her mind and everything on this outcome.”
Government statistics indicate that between one in four and one in three U.S. students have been bullied at school. Furthermore, the proven links between bullying and suicide are incredibly disturbing.
“Research indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior,” noted StopBullying.gov.
Do pray for Cherish and her family as they come to terms with this horrendous situation. Also, remember to pray for those who did the bullying. Pray that they would ask for forgiveness for their actions and make serious changes in their lives – and that they would never, ever bully again.