(WXYZ) - John Halligan says October 7th, 2003 was the day life changed for his family.
"I was never prepared for that phone call. My wife said John! John! You need to come home! Ryan killed himself!," Halligan recalled.
His 13-year-old son Ryan committed suicide soon after starting 8th grade in Vermont.
"Some kid was spreading rumor he was gay. He then approached a girl on line. She pretended to like him. Those were the two main things ... that perhaps pushed him over the edge," says Halligan.
Halligan says the bullying issues began when Ryan was a 5th grader.
Since his son's death, he has told Ryan's story to hundreds of schools around the country and in Canada.
"There's no ability to turn back the clock. There's no do over in this story. My son is gone forever," says Halligan.
He used his pain for a purpose. After Ryan's death, he spearheaded the passing of an anti-bullying law in Vermont. His message has three main points.
"If you're feeling what my son felt, go talk to someone. To the bystanders, you need to stop playing an audience role. The third point is to the bullies themselves. There is always the opportunity to ask for forgiveness," says Halligan.
Today's talk by Halligan was part of the Friendship Circle Upstanders Unite event. Upstander is a program founded by Bassie Shemtov.
"You live in society, if you see something wrong you have a responsibility," she says.
For the past 8 months, Upstander has been in five local schools teaching kids every month about creating a positive environment.
Students who spoke to 7 Action News say it has made a difference in their lives.
"Seeing what kids go through, the trauma, it's ridiculous and eye opening," says local high school senior Kirk Thomas.
"I before wouldn’t have taken the first step to stop it, but now i would no question," says high school senior Dana Abufarha.
"It really helps kids to know who are bullied that there are options," says Michael Mitchell, a senior at West Bloomfield High School.
To learn more about The Friendship Circle of MI visit http://www.friendshipcircle.org/
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