The parents of a Nebraska teenager who took his own life won't be pressing charges against the girl who bullied him.
Reid Adler was just 15 when his mother, Joni Adler, found him dead in his bedroom on Jan. 7, the Daily Mail reported. The cause of death was determined to be suffocation.
The day before the teen’s death, a classmate of Reid posted a photo he had sent her of his private parts on a website called Omaha Purge, the Omaha World-Herald reported. She reportedly blackmailed Reid, threatening to post the photo online if he didn’t comply with her demands.
“He apparently didn’t know how to handle it, so he took his own life,” Reid’s father, Mark Adler, told the Omaha-World-Herald.
Mark and Joni confirmed that they will not be pursuing legal action against the girl who posted the photo online.
“She’s already carrying probably one of the worst sentences she could ever carry,” Mark said. “She knows why my son took his life. And she has to live with that.”
Joni exchanged messages with the girl on Instagram. In one message, she told the teen girl she was forgiven.
The Adler family believes Reid sent the picture about a year ago. They said they don’t believe he was depressed or intended to commit suicide.
“I don’t think Reid was depressed and I don’t think Reid planned on taking his life that night, because on our computer was his AP English homework that he had to turn in the next day, completely done,” Mark said.
However, in December of 2015, Reid had sent his mother a letter stating that he sometimes felt like he didn’t want to live. He also wrote that he had been watching videos about suicide.
Reid’s parents took him to counseling. Joni went with him to every session, and Mark said the sessions went well.
Mark remembered texting his son the day after he wrote the letter.
“I basically told him this is how special you are, the things I love about you,” Mark recalled. “I said, ‘Whatever’s bothering you, we will help you. It doesn’t matter what it is.’
“He writes back to me -- and, probably, this is one of my only regrets -- he said, ‘Some of this stuff is embarrassing and so it would be hard to tell you, so I just keep it in.’”
Mark, who is a superintendent of Ralston Public Schools, said he believes Reid was worried that the picture he sent the girl would have affected his job.
“What I regret is I should have just went to him the very first time I could and said, ‘What is it? What’s going on?’’’ Mark said. “I didn’t do that. And I don’t know why I didn’t. I just didn’t. Looking back on it, I wish I had.”
The Adler family now hopes to raise awareness about suicide and mental health. They set up the Reid Adler Memorial Kindness Scholarship, which awards $1,000 to at least one graduating senior from Ralston High School every year.
The scholarship is mostly funded by donations, and recipients are given $250 to pay forward or give back to the community.
“He was like a child at an amusement park,” Joni said of her son. “When you show up, you’re only going to be there maybe once in your life and you run around like crazy because you want to see it all. You want to experience it all. That’s exactly how he treated life.”