Friends of a young girl who took her own life sent a strong message on the day of her funeral — stop the bullying. Maddi Jo Specht was just 16-years-old when she took her own life last Thursday.
Loved ones are now hoping to stop another tragedy from occurring by speaking out about how Specht was bullied and how it may have led to her death.
As they gathered for her funeral, her friends wore bright orange — Specht’s favorite color. Those who knew her say the shade represents how vibrant she was.
“The happiness on her face — it was just priceless,” Mallory Miller said. “When we were around her, she was the sun that came into the room.”
Specht was a free spirit of sorts, and friends say that made her a target for bullies. Family members told Fox 9 News the words were vicious.
“They were going to hit her over the head with a brick, they were going to come to her house — just horrible stuff,” family spokeswoman Cassie Willadson said. “There’s a girl that’s still talking bad about her.”
Specht even confided in one of her teachers that all the bullying had pushed her to leave Blaine High School. He tried to help the best he could.
“She had expressed to me that she had been bullied at the school, and I made referrals to her to administrators at the school,” Chuck Lavine said.
Now, her loved ones are asking anyone who bullies to simply stop and realize that words hurt — and they can hurt some more than others. Specht was vulnerable, and her smile and laughter were often a façade.
“Maddi’s pain just ran a little bit deeper, and careless teasing that may not be intended to be so hurtful — we just don’t know the intention and how people are going to take things,” Lavine said.
Specht will be remembered for the positive impact she had on so many who knew her, but friends and family also hope her story will prevent another young life from being lost too soon.
“If there’s anything that can come out of this, I just want kids to know they’re not alone,” Willadson said. “There’s people to talk to, and there are good people out there who will be there for you.”
Everyone who spoke with Fox 9 News wanted to make it clear that Specht’s solution is not a solution — ever, and they say others have to step up.
“Other kids have to know to stand up for their peers and to stand up to bullying,” Lavine said. “Stand up to mean girls to know when to say no.”
The Anoka School District said their hearts go out to family and friends and that they take bullying very seriously; however, they could not answer questions about Specht’s specific situation due to privacy laws.
Posted: May 20, 2014 9:17 PM EDT Updated: May 21, 2014 11:10 AM EDT
Read more: STOP BULLYING: ‘Maddi’s pain ran a little bit deeper’ – KMSP-TV