Anti-bullying candlelight vigil held in Campbell

December 11, 2011 12:08:21 PM PST
Bullying can have lasting -- and sometimes, deadly -- effects. A vigil was held in Campbell Saturday evening for a young woman who tried to kill herself three years ago.

Ashley Garcia, 19, says she thought death was better than living, and after being bullied by so-called friends, she attempted suicide.

Garcia had to drop out of school because of the bullies. She is now studying to become a paramedic so she can save lives.

Her brother, 12-year-old Jacob Garcia, is now a target at his school.

"It's mainly three kids that are bullying me almost once a week," Jacob Garcia said.

Both attended a candlelight vigil for 19-year-old Amanda Brownell, who is confined to a wheelchair after attempting suicide in a school cafeteria bathroom when she was 16. Brownell cannot see, walk, talk or eat on her own now.

"If I would have known, I could have done something different," said Amanda's mother Ann Brownell.

Brownell was in San Jose's Del Mar marching band. Her mother says Brownell received around 3,500 harassing and spiteful text messages in a one-month period.

"They were saying she was a lesbian, bisexual, that she was pregnant, and that she had AIDS and was spreading it," Brownell said.

Since her attempted suicide in December 2008, her mother has been leading an educational campaign called the Amanda Network to prevent teen suicide and bullying.

"For everyone one suicide (where) a kid dies, there's 100 kids that attempt it," said Brownell.

About 100 parents and children attended the candlelight vigil for Amanda Brownell at the Campbell United Methodist Church. Those who attended received scarves and wristbands in purple, Brownell's favorite color.

Those who attended also donated to the anti-bullying campaign and took a pledge to stop bullying wherever they see it.

Saturday's vigil was the third for Brownell. When asked how long she planned to keep the vigils going, her mother said she would continue until bullying stopped and there was no more teen suicide.

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