‘We Can’t Allow This Anymore’
PELHAM, N.H. — The mother of a 16-year-old Lowell High School sophomore who took her own life last year after being bullied advised other parents Monday to be a “pain in the butt” and badger their kids for information.
Anna Aslanian’s mother, Itea, speaking at an anti-bullying and suicide prevention and awareness event, also encouraged students to “just talk.”
“If you’re feeling very negative and you’re not feeling good about yourself, if you’re feeling alone, I can’t stress it enough: talk,” she told students.
Itea was speaking for the first time in public about losing her daughter to suicide.
“We can’t allow this anymore,” she said at Chunky’s Cinema Pub in Pelham, in front of about 100 people at the fundraiser. “We can’t do this to each other.”
Anna had hidden from parents the extent of the bullying and body-shaming she faced. They learned about it from a letter after she died.
Itea said she wishes she could go back in time and be a “pain in the butt,” peppering Anna with questions.
“It’s very difficult to try to help somebody who isn’t willing to open up and ask for that help,” Itea said, after choking up.
Pelham School Resource Officer Brian Kelly echoed her message, telling parents to dig for answers.
“If your kids don’t want to talk about it, keep talking about it,” he said.
Parents should look for warning signs, he said, including unexplained injuries, lost or destroyed property, frequent sickenss or changes in eating habits.
Pelham High School senior Meghan Montminy organized the fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She created the film “Silently Sorry” to bring awareness to the consequences of bullying.
“Every life is valuable and everyone is worth it,” she said before playing the short film.
Kids should not let bullies get to them, Itea also told students.
“Don’t allow somebody so insignificant to make you feel this way,” she said, adding that bullies have “something broken inside.”
Itea told the kids to be kind to one another, and be aware of what they’re saying.
“You never know what someone’s going through,” she said.
Itea said she will continue to spread positivity in Anna’s name through programs and scholarships. Attendees gave her a standing ovation after she talked.
The Samaritans of Merrimack Valley have volunteers who speak with those who are struggling. Their confidential crisis help line numbers are 978-327-6607 and 866-912-4673. A person in imminent risk should call 911.