A Savannah man is sharing his near-tragic story in hopes of preventing others from dealing with what he went through.
“I was eccentric,” said Pierre Bias, about himself as a teenager, when he used to walk the halls of Savannah High. “I didn’t fit in. I knew I didn’t. I felt like an outcast.”
Those feelings came – in part – from being repeatedly bullied.
“I felt ashamed. I felt miserable. Most of the time, I felt like I didn’t belong here, like there was something wrong with me,” Bias said.
The misery led Bias to a very dark place emotionally.
“You just start closing in and your personality gets diminished because of it because you feel (misunderstood).”
“Pierre was dealing with some very difficult things in his life,” said Dr. Quentina Miller-Fields, the director of student affairs for Chatham County Schools, who was Bias’ school social worker back in 1999. “He was one of those students who just stayed with me and I felt I needed to track him and follow him a little more closely.”
After an outburst at school that got him in serious trouble, Bias took a serious gamble with his life. Miller-Fields said she somehow knew it was coming after he didn’t show up for class one day. Instinct compelled her to drive to his house on the very same morning Pierre tried to overdose on pain pills. When Bias, didn’t answer the door, Miller-Fields kicked it in and got him the care he needed before it was too late.
“That’s not in the book,” said Miller-Fields. “But it was in my heart so I just did what I thought I needed to do.”
“It saved my life,” said Bias. “It changed my history; it changed by future.”
The link between bullying and suicide is still being studied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but CDC research shows that the behaviors are closely related. Most bullied kids don’t take their lives, but the CDC said young people who “report any involvement with bullying behavior are more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behavior.”
The CDC also found enough is known about the connection to make prevention recommendations. They include, teaching kids to cope with problems in healthy ways and trying to make kids feel connected to their schools. For educators, it can be as simple as greeting students by their names every day.
“I want everyone to know that there’s someone out there that’s an advocate that wants to help,” said Miller-Fields. “Please, please let us know. We can’t help if you don’t let us know.”
Miller-Fields said the school system is addressing bullying in various ways, including a summit that took place earlier this year.
“We’ve all got to care,” said Bias, who has been speaking to kids about his troubles. “Somebody has to care. It’s a pipeline of caring. If we all start caring in a pipeline, we won’t miss anybody.”
Bias said sharing his story of survival offers hope to others and he wants to make sure kids walk about with one message:
“Everything around you is temporary, but your life, your soul, it could go on forever,” Bias said.
The counselor got to Bias’ home first that day, but his family was also in the loop and was instrumental in helping him cope with and recover form his decision to attempt his life. His parents had no idea he had skipped school that day.
For bullying prevention resources from SCCPSS click here.