Ryan Halligan

Ryan Patrick Halligan ( 18 of December of 1989 , Poughkeepsie , † New York – 7 of October of 2003 , Essex Junction , Vermont ) was a teenage American who committed suicide at the age of 13 years after receiving bullying of peers both Real life and online ( school cyberbullying ). According to the Associated Press , Halligan received several times instant messages from high school classmates accusing him of being homosexual , and was “threatened, mocked and insulted incessantly.” 1

His father, John P. Halligan, a former IBM engineer, later lobbied for legislation in Vermont to improve the way schools address bullying and suicide prevention . He has also lectured in schools in other states on the history of his son.

The Halligan case has been cited by lawmakers in various states to propose legislation to curb cyberbullying . 1 In Vermont, laws were subsequently promulgated to address the problem of cyberbullying and the risk of teenage suicides. 2 In 2008 , this suicide and its causes were examined in a segment of the television program “Frontline” entitled “Growing Up Online”.

Life and suicide

Halligan was born on 18 of December of 1989 in Poughkeepsie , New York , son of John and Kelly Halligan. His family moved to Essex Junction, Vermont, where Halligan attended elementary school and, later, high school. He was described by his father as a “sweet, very soulful” boy, who experienced some developmental delays that affected speech and physical coordination in his early years of school. Although he overcame difficulties in fourth grade, “He was still struggling, school was never easy for him, but he always showed up with a smile on his face, wanting to give his best,” according to his father. 3

In the school year 1999 – 2000 , Halligan suffered moral harassment from a group of students from his school because of his learning disorder. The family said in a short documentary that Halligan signed up for advice, with little success. In December of 2002 , the young man told his father that harassment had begun again and asked to learn boxing taebo for Christmas in order to learn to defend themselves from bullies. 3 Following a fight in February 2003 , which was disbanded by the deputy director, the aggressor stopped pestering Halligan. Towards the end of seventh grade, Halligan told his father that he and the aggressor had become friends. However, after Halligan told him about an embarrassing examination he had received in the hospital after having stomach pains, the offender used the information to spread the rumor that Halligan was gay. 4

According to his father’s reports and news, Halligan spent much of his time online during the summer of 2003 , particularly on AIM and other instant messaging services . Halligan did not tell his parents any of this. During the summer, he was ciberacosado by companions who made fun of him, saying that he was gay. 3 He unwittingly filed these conversations on his hard drive when he installed DeadAIM , a free program. His father also found in this folder transcripts of archived online exchanges in which a girl, named Ashley, whom Halligan was in love with, intended, but then said at school that he was a “loser.” Halligan discovered that he only simulated in order to retrieve his personal information about him. His private exchanges were copied and pasted into other instant messages among his schoolmates to embarrass him and humiliate him. When he approached the girl and she called him a loser, he said: “It’s for girls like you, which makes me want to kill myself.” Halligan’s father also discovered some disturbing conversations between Halligan and a child with a username that he did not recognize. Halligan had also started an online communication with a boyfriend about suicide and death and told him that he was thinking about suicide. He had also exchanged information on sites related to death and suicide including sites that taught him to take his own life without pain. The young woman replied, “This is a fucking mess.” However his parents admitted that there were warning signs. I was getting bad grades at school. One night his father asked if he had ever thought about suicide and the father said yes, but also said “Ryan, imagine if I had done that. Look at all the things I have missed like family. 3

The 7 of October of 2003 , when John Halligan Halligan’s father was traveling on business and all other family members slept Halligan early in the morning, Halligan committed suicide by hanging himself. Her body was later found by her older sister when she woke up and went to the bathroom.


Although Halligan did not leave a suicide note, his father, John P. Halligan, learned of cyberaggression when he accessed his son’s computer. In reviewing his son’s yearbook he found the faces of the crowd scribbled. Halligan had scribbled over the face of the leader, the same boy who fought with Halligan, befriended him and began the rumor of homosexuals so aggressively that Halligan had ripped the paper. His parents also found a picture of a child hanging from a rope. He then went to his son’s computer and learned of cyberaggression when he read what his son’s friends told him.

She forgave the girl after she learned that she was being blamed for the Halligan suicide and that she was going to commit suicide because of the guilt of her death and subsequently take her home. She was going to speak out against bullying with Halligan’s father on ABC’s popular prime-time show . Although the Halligan moved from Vermont, she still maintains contact with the family. The father confronted the bully who had started the gay rumor after he learned that he had scoffed at how Halligan killed himself through another father. At first he was so angry that he wanted to go further and “crush that boy and kill him,” but later he changed his mind after being caught in traffic. The stalker burst into tears and apologized for what he did. John Halligan also wanted to bring charges against the assailant, but the police informed him that there was no criminal law for which he could be charged. However, he also forgave the aggressor as well as the girl.

Halligan’s father also discovered a conversation between Halligan and another boy who approached Halligan, claiming he was gay. But Halligan did not finish the conversation. Instead, he began to try to find out who he was. Halligan’s father also discovered the name of Halligan’s boyfriend and after the boy gave his real name went to his house and talked to his parents, and also to eliminate all conversations between him and Halligan after he published a conversation between Them in your profile. According to Halligan, he never got a satisfactory answer even though the police sent hard copies of their conversations to the boy’s parents. He still visits the boy’s website which contains several references to death and suicide . 3 He began putting pressure on legislation in Vermont to improve schools and how to address bullying and suicide prevention. He has also given lectures in schools in several states about his son’s story and the devastating effects of cyber bullying among teens. Ashley also pledged to be on public television with Father Halligan, who never revealed the name of the boyfriend or the aggressor, although he knows them.

Subsequently, Vermont passed a Prevention Policy Bullying Bullying in May of 2004 and later adopted a Suicide Prevention Act (Act 114) in 2005 , following closely a draft submitted by the father Halligan. The law establishes measures to help teachers and others recognize and respond to the risks of depression and suicide among adolescents. The Halligan 2 Case has also been cited by lawmakers in other states to propose legislation to curb cyberbullying. 1

The story of Halligan appeared on a TV show “Frontline” titled “Growing Up Online”, produced in January 2008 by WGBH-TV in Boston and distributed nationally by PBS . In it, his father relates his surprise to discover the magnitude of the abuse that his son suffered, saying that he believed that harassment on the Internet had “amplified and accelerated the harm and pain he was trying to cope with, which began in The real world”. The story of Halligan was also featured on Oprah’s program in a report they made about an increase in homophobic teasing in schools. 5


  1. ↑ Jump to:a b c Norton, Justin M. (February 21, 2007). «States Pushing for Laws to Curb Cyberbullying» . Fox News . Consulted on May 1, 2009 .
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b «Teen suicide: Greater IBMer John Halligan says there IS something we can do» . Connections eMagazine . IBM . Consulted on May 1, 2009 .
  3. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e Flowers, John (October 19, 2006). «Cyber-Bullying hits community» . Addison County Independent . Consulted on May 1, 2009 .
  4. Back to top↑ Halligan, John (2009). «Ryan’s story» . Ryan’s Story Presentation . Consulted the 21 of February of 2010 .
  5. Back to top↑ «Growing Up Online (Chapter 6:” Cyberbullying “)» . “Frontline”] (Television production) (Boston: PBS ). January 22, 2008. Scene at 0: 08: 16-0: 08: 30 . Consulted on May 1, 2009 .