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John Halligan      

Bullying Prevention & Teen Suicide Awareness Advocate

John Halligan lost his thirteen-year-old son, Ryan, to suicide on October 7, 2003. At the time of his death, Ryan was a middle school student in Essex Junction, Vermont. It was revealed in much greater detail after Ryan’s death that he was ridiculed and humiliated by peers at school and online.

In memory of his son, Halligan spearheaded the Vermont Bully Prevention bill, signed into law (ACT117) in May 2004 and only a few months after Ryan’s death. He also successfully led the law's passage on mandatory suicide prevention education in public schools (ACT 114) in April 2006.

Mr. Halligan has been outspoken about the need for more education and prevention of bullying, cyberbullying, and teen suicide throughout the United States, Canada, and Latin America. He has appeared on several national TV programs, including Primetime with Diane Sawyer, PBS Frontline, and Oprah. Halligan also spoke at the United Nations Cyberhate Seminar in 2009.

In 2019, he published two books: "Ryan’s Story: A Father’s Hard-Earned Lessons on Cyberbullying and Suicide" for adults. "Ryan’s Story: Loved Beyond Belief," for middle and high school students, telling the heartbreaking story of Ryan Halligan’s short life. Both books include tips on safe technology use, strategies for the bullied and bystanders, and suicide prevention.

Speech Topics

Student Assembly

Ryan's Story inspires students to make positive changes in their lives towards reducing bullying, cyber-bullying, and preventing teen suicides. Students are reached deeply and profoundly and are encouraged to examine their lives and how they treat others. Bystanders are inspired to stand by no longer and use their voices to stop others from getting bullied at school or online. All will leave this presentation feeling loved, hopeful, and changed.

Parent Presentation

Ryan’s Story / A Father’s Hard-Earned Lessons About Cyberbullying and Suicide shares the lessons learned from my family's tragedy. It is updated every school year to address the latest social media problems facing preteens and teens. Practical recommendations are provided for parents to prevent suicide and bullying. Parents will get an unambiguous message that they need to step up and take responsibility for how their child uses technology and interact with their peers in person and online.

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