Ryan Halligan (Ryan Patrick Halligan)

Ryan Halligan

Ryan Halligan was born on December 18, 1989 in Poughkeepsie, New York, the son of John P. and Kelly Halligan. His family moved to Essex Junction, Vermont, where Halligan attended Hiawatha Elementary School and, later, Albert D. Lawton Middle School. He was described by his father as a “gentle, very sensitive soul,” who experienced some developmental delays affecting speech and physical coordination in his early school years. Although he overcame those difficulties by the fourth grade, “He still struggled; school was never easy to him, but he always showed up with a smile on his face, eager to do his best,” said his father. When Ryan Halligan was 10 years old, he suffered bullying at the hands of a group of students at his school because of his learning disorder and because his passion for music (drums and guitar) and his love for drama set him apart. His father said that when Ryan told him he was being picked on, his initial response was to ignore the boys, as they were just bullying him with words. The family said later in a short documentary that Halligan enrolled in counseling, with little success. After that he moved up to middle school, where the bullying continued on and off for the next 2 years.

In December 2002, Ryan Halligan told his father that the bullying had started again. He asked for a Taebo Kick Boxing set for Christmas in order to learn how to defend himself. At first his father wanted to go to the school principal and sort things out, but Ryan wanted to learn how to fight, believing that complaining to the school about the boys would make things worse. After Christmas, Ryan and his father developed a routine of practicing downstairs in the basement for 2 hours every night. After Ryan had learned to handle himself, his father told him not to pick fights at school, but said that if any student ever touched him aggressively, Ryan had his father’s permission to defend himself as best as he could. In February 2003, Halligan had a fight with the bully, which was broken up by the assistant principal; after that, the bully stopped bothering the boy. Toward the end of 7th grade, Halligan told his father that he and the bully had become friends. But, after Halligan told the boy about an embarrassing examination required after he had stomach pains, he learned that the bully misused the story to spread a rumor that Halligan was gay.

According to his father and news reports, during the summer of 2003, Ryan Halligan spent much of his time online, particularly on AIM and other instant messaging services. Halligan did not tell his parents about this. During the summer, he was cyber-bullied by schoolmates who taunted him, thinking he was gay. Ryan was also bullied at school about this; his father later learned that on one occasion, Ryan ran out of the classroom in tears. As Ryan had unintentionally archived these online conversations on his hard drive when he installed DeadAIM, his father was able to read these discussions. Ryan had deliberately saved transcripts of online exchanges in which Ashley, a popular girl whom Halligan had a crush on, pretended to like him. Later at school, she told him that he was a “loser”. According to an ABC Primetime report, she had once been his friend and defended him when the bullying first started; when she became more popular in middle school, she left him behind. He found out she only pretended to like him to gain personal information about him. She copied and pasted their private exchanges into other IMs among his schoolmates to embarrass and humiliate him. Mr. Halligan said that he was proud of his son sticking up for himself.

After the girl had called him a loser, Ryan Halligan said, “It’s girls like you who make me want to kill myself.” His father found out about this later because it was a matter of record with the local police. Halligan’s father also discovered some disturbing conversations between Ryan and a boy with a screen name he did not recognize. Halligan began communicating online with a pen-pal about suicide and death, and told him he was thinking about suicide. They had been exchanging information they had found on sites relating to death and suicide, including sites that taught them how to painlessly kill themselves. The pen-pal answered “Phew. It’s about fucking time,” shortly after Ryan told him he was thinking about suicide, two weeks before he killed himself. This was the last conversation he had with the pen-pal. As Halligan found out, contrary to popular belief, Ryan’s pen-pal was a boy Ryan knew up until third grade when the boy and his parents moved away. When they found each other online, they reconnected. The pen-pal had, according to Halligan’s father, turned into a very negative person with a bleak outlook on life. Online the boys discussed how much they hated their popular classmates and how they made them feel. The penpal suggested suicide as a way out, writing, “If you killed yourself you would really make them feel bad.” Ryan’s father said that the boy was the worst possible friend that Ryan could have had at that time.

The parents acknowledged that Ryan Halligan had discussed some of his worries and brought up suicide. He had told them his report card would be bad, and worried that his parents would be disappointed in him. One night he asked his dad if he had ever thought of suicide, who responded that he had, but also said, “Ryan, imagine if I did do that. Look at all the things we would have missed out on as a family.” On October 7, 2003, John Halligan was away on business. Early in the morning, when family members were still sleeping, Ryan Halligan committed suicide by hanging himself. His body was found later by his older sister.

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Born

  • December, 18, 1989
  • USA
  • Poughkeepsie, New York

Died

  • October, 07, 2003
  • USA
  • Essex Junction, Vermont

Cause of Death

  • hanging

Cemetery

  • Holy Family Cemetery
  • Essex Junction, Vermont
  • USA

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