Editor’s note • This article discusses suicide. If you or people you know are at risk of self-harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255.
“There’s no place in this world for bullying.”
Every kid in Utah should listen to — and really hear — what the NBA star said after Monday night’s Jazz win over the Houston Rockets. Every kid in the country, every kid on the planet. Every parent, too.
Those kids and adults might absolutely adhere to his words — if Mitchell could stand directly in front of every one of them and issue the message, face to face.
He would if he could.
Sometimes this existence is too, too cruel.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Not when it comes to the way children treat each other, the way parents insist that they treat each other.
Mitchell mentioned two Utah families who had suffered unimaginable losses in recent days, when their young children — Drayke Hardman and Izzy Tichenor — died by suicide in separate tragedies, having suffered the buffetings of torment coming from classmates.
They were bullied.
Those tragedies struck the hearts of family members in terrible ways, and they blew straight into and through entire communities around here, causing many, both the young and the old, to not just plumb the depths of despair, but also to examine an issue that is far too common all around us.
An issue that needs examination.
That was Mitchell’s message on Monday night, a night during which he and Rudy Gobert received their All-Star rings from Drayke’s and Izzy’s families.
Those players have combined to speak out about and/or send donations to the families doing the suffering.
Good on them.
Good on everyone who has either reached out to give support or more fervently concentrate on emphasizing the need to end the bullying. It must end. Has to.
Mitchell said he was using his platform as an NBA player, one kids of all ages adore, in order to address and eradicate the bullying.
If you’re a youngster, hear what the man is saying. If you’re a parent with kids, do everything possible to extend the message to those under your wing.
Izzy’s and Drayke’s stories make everyone’s head and heart hurt.
How can this happen to such sweet, beautiful children? Children who have so much of life to look forward to, so many things to experience and to achieve.
It makes you sad. It makes you mad. It stirs pity. It stirs pain.
Drayke, all of 12 years old, was a huge Jazz fan. Now, he’s gone.
Sweet Izzy was 10. Gone, too.
This has to stop. We must make it stop.
Mitchell and Gobert are speaking with actions and words. Everyone within earshot needs not only to hear what they are saying, but to amplify it — straight into the consciousness of every kid, every classmate in Utah, and beyond.
The cruelty can end. The suffering can end. The mourning can end.
Not for those who care for and about Izzy and Drayke — that hurt will go on forever — but, rather, for other kids who are victims-in-waiting, victims-in-the-making.
Let’s eliminate the making and extinguish the waiting.
These kids should be playing and laughing and singing and dancing and learning and goofing around and … living. They should be cheering for Mitchell and Gobert, not having Gobert and Mitchell grieving over them.
All anyone can do now is remember Drayke and Izzy with fondness, as they laugh and play and sing and dance in the Great Beyond, or wherever youngsters go when they pass, and urge the children who are left behind to treat each other with respect and kindness, whether they look the same or look different, whether they are popular or unpopular, whether they fit in or fit out.
Everyone listen to — and hear — Donovan Mitchell.
Bullying has broken too many hearts, exacted too many tears. The community has cried enough.