DRACUT — Students and staff at Richardson Middle School recently heard a talk on bullying by John Halligan, a Vermont man whose 13-year-old son committed suicide in 2003.

At the time of his death, Ryan Halligan was a student at a middle school in Vermont. It was revealed in great detail after Ryan’s death that he was ridiculed and humiliated by peers at school and online.

In memory of his son, and just a few months after his death, Halligan spearheaded the Vermont Bullying Prevention law in 2004. He also led the passing of a law in 2006 pertaining to suicide-prevention education in public schools.

Halligan has been outspoken about the need for more education and prevention of bullying, cyberbullying and teen suicide throughout the United States and Canada. His son’s story and his accomplishments in response to the tragedy have been reported worldwide. He has appeared Primetime with Diane Sawyer, Frontline and Oprah.

Halligan told the story of Ryan’s life and the factors that led up to his suicide. The audience gained a unique perspective from inside a family of a child who is a victim of bullying and cyberbullying, as well as a deeper understanding of the impact of a teen suicide on a family.

Many powerful life lessons were imparted, including forgiveness and finding ways to turn a tragedy into hope for others. For information, visit