Peers describe Ronin Shimizu as the happiest person they've ever met. But beneath that smile was pain that led the 12-year-old to take his own life last week. Though it is unclear why Ronin committed suicide, many believe it was because of the bullying he endured for being a cheerleader. While attending Folsom Middle School last year, Ronin was tormented by several classmates because of his choice in extracurricular activities. A district rep says the tween's claim was investigated, but it seems that not much was done after that. The bullying became so brutal that the then sixth-grader transferred to the district's home-school program.
"When he left to go home-school . . . he just looked so happy," Hunter Reed, a friend of Ronin, told a local news outlet. "He knew he didn't want to be bullied again." But changing schools didn't necessarily change the way classmates treated Ronin, as several people say the bullying continued after he transferred. Initially, the family would not speak about the loss. But over the weekend, his parents took to social media to thank those who've offered support and to share a few thoughts on their son.
"The tragic loss of our son has and will forever change our life. The love and support that we received from family, friends and the Folsom community has been immeasurable and words cannot begin to express our gratitude through this most difficult grieving process. The people close to our family know exactly who Ronin was, but since the story of this tragedy has spread worldwide, we want to take a minute to let the world know who he was. Ronin was one of the most loving, compassionate, empathetic, artistic and funny kids to grace this earth. Ronin was a child who was not afraid to follow his heart, and we as his parents did everything in our power to allow him to pursue his passions, while protecting him from the minority that could not understand the specialness he possessed."
They added that they hope to "turn this tragedy into something positive" and remind parents that bullying prevention should occur in homes as well as schools. Our hearts are with the Shimizus and others who are grieving the loss of this beautiful and bright boy.