US

Iowa Teenager Committed Suicide, Bullying Played a Role: Family Says

By Samuel Allegri

A teenager from Iowa committed suicide last week, and his obituary is currently going viral with the hope that the message will help other people reconsider their actions.

“The family has no hard feelings towards you, and you are forgiven. Your actions are between you and God now. Dan was so loved by many and was a sweet and caring young man,” reads the obituary.

Dan James Richards was just days away from his 17th birthday, reported WHO-TV. His whole family collaborated to write the obituary.

“Dan loved nature, animals (especially our family cat, Wayne), and spending time with his friends and family. He liked fishing, singing, writing poems and reading. Dan had plans to attend many activities in his future including going into the military after high school.

“Dan was the ideal son. He rarely talked back or argued. When he made mistakes, he was accountable for them. He was easygoing and so caring. Dan touched the lives of many,” reads the obituary.

Dan was involved in choir, chess, and football.

“He was always smiling and then there was this quick wit,” Dan’s mother, Laura Dowda, told WHO-TV.

His bright personality made his whole family feel puzzled about why he committed suicide.

“Never would of thought Dan,” said Dan’s oldest sister, Mary Richards.

“The last person I would’ve expected,” said Dan’s middle sister, Danelle Richards.

“I’m around so many who are feeling so much guilt right now because they didn’t see the signs. There were no signs to see,” said his grandfather, Tim Haynie.

They weren’t sure what was going on, but they did know that bullying was an issue in his life.

Dowda told WHO-TV, “We would ask him ‘are you being bullied?’ and he would say ‘don’t worry about it. I’ve got it taken care of,’ or he’d just shrug. So we knew he was being bullied, but he just didn’t want to make a big issue of it.”

“He had such a big heart and will be greatly missed. In lieu of flowers, we ask that everyone be kind to each other,” the family wrote in the obituary.

Mary said: “The whole reason we are gathering here and doing this is to possibly prevent just one other person, one other teenager from doing this. And one other family from having to go through this pain because it’s the worst pain you could ever imagine.”

Their message is resonating with Iowans across the state, and Dan’s family hopes that their grief can bring change.

The obituary concluded by saying: “Dan was preceded in death by his grandparents: Ruth and James Miller, Larry Richards and Sandra Dowda; his great-grandfather, LeRoy Hanie; and great-grandmothers: Shirley Watson and Marjorie Underwood.

“Dan is survived by his mother, Laura (husband Benjie) Dowda of Creston; his father, Danny Richards of Creston; 3 sisters: Mary Richards (fiance Tanner Porter) of Peru, Iowa, Danelle Richards (boyfriend Jordan Martin) of Winterset, Iowa and Amanda Richards of Peru, Iowa; grandparents: Tim and Jeannette Haynie of Creston, Bennie Dowda of Manitou Springs, Colorado and Virginia Brownrigg of Creston; great-grandmother, Nellie Jane Haynie of Ft. Wayne, Indiana; great-grandfather, Harold Keith Watson of Pleasant Plain, Iowa; many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.”

“I raised my kids that way to not be better than anybody else, to just respect other people as if they want to be respected,” said Danny Richards, Dan’s Father.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Suicide Hotlines

If you are in an emergency in the U.S. or Canada, please call 911. You can phone the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1 800 273 8255. Youth can call the Kids Help Phone on 1800 668 6868.

In Australia, the suicide prevention telephone hotline at Lifeline is 13 11 14. You can also visit the Lifeline website at lifeline.org.au. Youth can contact the Kids Helpline by phoning 1800 551 800 or visiting headspace.org.au/yarn-safe

If you are in an emergency in India, call Befrienders India – National Association at +91 33 2474 4704.