Dozens gather in Pattersonville to remember a Schalmont high schooler who took his own life. While police and school officials say bullying wasn't a factor, his parents say the boy was being intimidated by other teens. Karen Tararache has more.
PATTERSONVILLE, N.Y. -- For the parents and close family of Jack Gannon Zebrowski, the vigil held at the Pattersonville Fire Department Friday night was meant as a lesson to other teens, hoping they feel encouraged speak up to anyone if they are being bullied.
Jack's grandmother, Jacquie Gleckman, said, "So many people are left behind to try and figure out why and we're never going to have an answer because Jack can't tell us."
Family, friends and those who didn't know Jack Gannon personally gathered to remember the 14-year-old boy who took his life two weeks ago.
"Suicide should not be an option and bullying should not make people feel so bad that there's no other alternative and that's what he felt," Gleckman said.
The Schalmont High School freshman never exhibited signs of being bullied to his parents nor did he ever tell staff members at the school.
Schalmont School District Superintendent Carol Pallas said, "There may have been things going on for this young man that we didn't know about that students, for one reason or another, weren't comfortable talking about, nor was he talking about."
Rotterdam PD looked into claims of bullying made on social media, but said their preliminary investigation resulted in no evidence of it.
Pallas added, "We have mechanisms that are in place to address bullying. I think the thing that is challenging in this case is that none of those provisions were used."
Robyn Posson, a mental health counselor at Schenectady Community College, said, "They're often afraid to speak up because of the shame that goes along with being treated in the way that they are."
With candles in hand and hoping to spread the message of speaking out and against bullying, Jack's loved ones have become the voice that he never had.
"Think about the power that one kid can do by saying something terrible. Let's flip that around the power of saying something positive, can flip it," Posson said.
"Now Jack has a voice and it's a terrible way to get it, but if this is what it took, God had his reasons. I don't know what they are. but Jack is home now and nobody can bully him up there. He's safe," Gleckman said.
As many still struggle to understand why Jack took his life, his mother told the crowd one thing is certain: If Jack was still living, he would have used his voice. He would have used it to become a singer.