The November suicide of Chula Vista High School senior Steven Liu, which rattled the San Diego community and left many friends and family members in a state of shock and sorrow, was not the isolated incident that school and police authorities have made it out to be but rather a result of a failure of leadership in both the school and community to take action against bullying.
Liu’s friends, Chul Min Park and Diane Lee of Otay Ranch High School, where Liu was a senior, spoke to JSR about the incident last month. During the interview, Park expressed that he “never would’ve thought it would actually happen.”
Liu, Park said, frequently hurt himself by banging his head against classroom walls and doors. In one instance, Park said that Liu even bruised his own face. Park, a member of the cross country team with Liu, says that he did in fact witness his friend being bullied by the team for his sexuality and physical insecurities.
Yet Otay Ranch officials are denying accusations that Liu’s death. Police authorities and school spokesmen have denied that the suicide had any correlation with bullying within the school, although schools around the city have put together presentations and invited social groups to provide entertaining performances for both middle and high school students.
School officials fail to realize that the performances and presentations are not nearly enough to alleviate the crisis.
As Diane Lee put it, “What the spokesman and police are saying is a lie. They’re trying to protect their image.”
Displaying videos of bullying and inviting troupes to perform anti-bullying skits are not sufficient. The performances ring especially hollow considering that the school itself is refusing to admit that its negligence led to this tragic aftermath. And Steven Liu is not the only teenager in Chula Vista whose life has ended tragically after bullying.
Earlier in the year, Chula Vista authorities ruled that Reyna Genel, a student at nearby Mater Dei High School, had committed suicide at an Otay Ranch dam. Friends of Genel have said that she had been bullied at her high school and no action was taken by authorities.
To prevent more suicides, police and school authorities need to take action. They can start in conducting a further investigation of Liu’s death by not only admitting that the bullying took place in the school but also by addressing the cross country team and school to prevent further offenses.