'I hope that you somehow see this and cry yourself to sleep and then that you kill yourself'.
Yesterday, it was Grace McComas' 17th birthday. Not that she was around to celebrate it. Grace died, you see, her life ending on Easter Sunday, 2012. Once described as a 'happy, bubbly' teenager, with a great sense of humor, Grace committed suicide. She had been bullied, online, for 12 months. In the end, Grace could take it no more.
'It took its toll,' explains Christine, Grace's mom. 'It damaged her. She got anxious, she couldn't sleep, she couldn't eat. She got to the point where she wouldn't go outside. She was afraid all the time. She wouldn't even walk to the mailbox'.
It is a shocking story, one that disturbs us a great deal here at OM®, where bullying is an issue that has long caused us concern. Cyberbullying is on the increase, which is something that causes us considerable distress. Something must be done to tackle this. It gladdens us to report that, in Grace's name, Christine and her relatives have decided to meet the problem head on.
Grace's Law, which makes cyberbulling a criminal offence that could result in jail time, received Senate approval in the summer. Described as 'landmark legislation', this is having a significant impact. It came too late for Grace, but for others in her position (and so great is the problem, there are a lot), it is proving invaluable.
'I feel like it brings honor to Grace,' says Christine. 'If we can make these changes in her name . . . I just feel like it's what I'm supposed to be doing with my life right now.'
Not that Christine is standing alone in all this. The support from all over the United States has been overwhelming, whilst Grace's cousins, Katie, Haley, Michaela, Ellie and Carolina have been instrumental in organizing Kindness for Grace, an awareness campaign that, on her birthday last year, prompted more than 10,000 positive texts, tweets, posts and pictures.
'Our intention was to honor our cousin and her memory,' says Michaela. 'She was always a kind, loving person so we really wanted to spread her spirit out to anyone who might have experienced cyberbullying, and we wanted to use her love and her memory to promote kindness online.' 'No matter where you are, you can help spread kindness,' adds Haley, whose sentiments have struck quite a chord in our studio. Spreading kindness has long been our mission here at OM®. This is something we couldn't support more and we have no doubt that it is going to make a big difference in the fight against bullying.
We never met Grace, but she sounds like our kind of person. Kind and loving and with the power to inspire others. Her death is tragic. It must not be allowed to be in vain. Grace stands as an example to us all and, here in our studio, her name will always mean love and kindness and happiness and fun. October is National Bullying Awareness Month so please, let's all think about how we treat other people and about how we can be nicer to each other.
For our sake and for yours. For Christine and for Grace. Because the end of bullying begins with YOU . . .