Teen takes life because of bullying, father speaks out

Alex with his mother / Mike Horne

A Michigan father, who lost his son to suicide, says it can and should be prevented.

February 9th, 2009, 16-year-old Alex Harrison wrote a note to his parents, brought a shotgun with him to his backyard, and shot himself through the heart.

He had an IQ around 150 and that didn't always translate well in social situations.

He was bullied in school and online.

His parents say, while his pain ended that day, their pain had just begun.

"I knew there was something more I had to do that I just didn't feel comfortable leaving it where it was," says Tom Harrison, Alex's father about the grieving process.

Tom's mission through message is how he's honoring his son's life.

"My message really is about love and respect. Instead of getting up here and beating them down for the bad things they do, I tell them they have to respect themselves."

It's a challenge the Cadillac father has brought to nearly three dozen schools. The latest was at Bullock Creek High School Monday.

"You don't have to be best friends with everybody in the school, but you have to be friendly. You have to be respectful."

It's a message of proactive positiveness overcoming a culture of cruelty.

"You do have to report bullying because you're helping that bully out and that bully needs help."

The Harrisons, along with several other families who have lost children to suicide because of bullying, are banding together to get Matt's Safe School Law passed.

It would require all school districts to have anti-bullying rules with penalties.