School bans memorial apparel

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GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116
School bans memorial apparel

Do you think this school made the right decision or should they let these students mourn in whatever way helps them to cope?

After 13-year-old Tyler Nichols took his life inside his school, classmates made clothing and jewelry to honor his memory. Now administrators at Southgate's Davidson Middle School say those items are no longer allowed.

"She just was bawling and bawling, and I'm like I will be there as soon as I can," said Gena Pizo.

She will never forget the day her daughter called saying her friend and classmate since kindergarten committed suicide inside a school bathroom.

There have been plenty of tearful days for the kids, but Pizo said students have made clothing and bracelets saying things such as "rest in peace Tyler" or "fly high Ty" with the suicide awareness symbol, and that seems to help.

"It was very traumatic for them, especially when it happens in school," Pizo said. "They wear it because they feel that's how they're going to recognize their friend, remember him."

Since the suicide to deal with their pain, some students have been wearing their sweatshirts, bracelets and T-shirts in memory of Tyler, but parents received an email Wednesday night that said as of Friday, April 12, students will no longer be able to wear that clothing and then tried to explain the reasons why.

"They don't want to glorify suicide, and I don't think the kids are trying to glorify it. I think they just want to remember their friend. It's only been two and a half weeks," Pizo said.

According to the email, the decision was based on research from the Association of Suicidology and National Association of School Psychologists that says continued visual reminders can lead to decreases in cognitive function and the inability to focus and retain and process information, among other things, and memorial clothing may be glamorizing the death.

"We're going by what is being recommended to us, and we've looked at things, too, and there's not a right answer in all this stuff," said Southgate Schools Superintendent Bill Grusecki. "So we're looking at getting back to as normal as possible in the most timely fashion we can, and we feel we're making the right decision. We've even touched base with Tyler's parents, and they believe this is the right thing for us to do, too."

He explained if students continue to wear the clothing, they won't be punished, but they will have to speak with counselors to help them work through their grief.

Pizo speaking on behalf of a lot of concerned parents said the school should anticipate just that because their kids don't plan to stop wearing the clothes that are helping them cope with their loss.

"I just want the kids to be able to grieve for their friend," she said.

Read more: Southgate school bans apparel memorializing suicide victim - Dallas News |

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568

Wow. What a sad situation. I do not have any answers, but I feel for the people involved.

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

Students should get to grieve in whatever way they need to. Memorials don't glorify suicide, and they may prevent another one by allowing the kids to express their grief. Shutting them down and making them hold it in isn't going to help anyone.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

Before I got to the end I was going to side with the students because of Tinker v. Des Moines. But their reasoning changes my mind. It truly is a distraction at this point

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"fuchsiasky" wrote:

Students should get to grieve in whatever way they need to. Memorials don't glorify suicide, and they may prevent another one by allowing the kids to express their grief. Shutting them down and making them hold it in isn't going to help anyone.

They are allowing them to work through their grief. They aren't goingto be punished for wearing it; they will be sent to the counselor.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

BTW, this happened on March 24th. The professionals are recommending a different course of action now... For several weeks they have supported students' decision to grieve in this manner and want to help them continue the process.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

Yeah, I think the school is trying hard to do what's right and help these kids. They're working with professionals to do what they think is right in a situation where you really can't know for sure what's best for everyone. I don't have a problem with it.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

I'm siding with the school on this. I think they are handling it as best as they can and they do truly seem to have the students best interests at heart.

No one is telling them they can't grieve but there comes a point when the school has to start to maintain order and eliminate distractions.

I completely agree with the idea that it can glorify suicide. Some other student that feels pushed aside, depressed etc. may think they will get the attention this is getting. They are 13 and they cannot always process tragedies and death the way adults do.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

I, like ethanwinfield, was totally siding with the students on this, until the end. If credible research has been done that suggest memorializing it in this way is not healthy then the school has to do something.

I know that a lot of 13 year olds have no idea of the finality of suicide. The attention that this child is getting after his death may be appealing to a child seeking attention.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

If this was three DAYS after the suicide, then I'd say give the kids time to grieve in their own ways. But it's been three weeks, and I think it's time to move on, at least at school. Life really does go on, and that's a good lesson for these kids to learn. If the kids can't or won't, then they'll get the counseling they obviously still need, and that's a good thing to have happen.

And ITA with Jessica & Lisa, and the school psychologists, that for 13yos this could be seen as glorifying or glamorizing suicide and be an appealing way to get attention. That is a scary age for peer pressure and the desire to fit in and be accepted, and if this boy was seen as an outsider who is finally being loved & adored by everyone, I can see how that might be tempting for someone else.