In memory of
Jared High
Suicide  Bullying  depression
Kristina's Story

By her mother, Michelle Calco
Co-Director, Bully Police-Michigan http://www.theshabbycastle.com/kristinacalco
mpcalico (at) yahoo (dot) com

One blustery snowy morning in December 2005, we awoke to find that our 15 year old daughter, Kristina Calco, had abruptly ended her own life.  Kristina had been approaching her 16th birthday with an excitement which was barely containable.  Yet, for some reason unbeknownst to us at the time, this beautiful young girl who on the surface seemed to have just about everything going for her, felt the need to check out of life for good.  We, like many parents in this tragic situation, were left to pick up the pieces. Fortunately for us, in addition to 2 suicide notes, Kristina left behind page after page of detailed journal entries, dozens of MYSPACE personal emails and numerous AOL Instant Messenger Conversation screen prints. We are now able to piece together a timeline for Kristina which begins with Bullying and Teasing from at least the 7th grade on.  This is the story of Kristina Arielle Calco.  She wrote about herself in the summer before 7th grade:
“Hi, I’m Kristina Calco and I’m 12 ½ yrs old going on 13 on Dec. 26 (the day after Christmas aren’t I lucky?) You are reading about my life in my preteen/teenage years. Let me tell you a few things about me. 

I have wavy/curly dark brown hair an inch or two longer than my shoulders and dark… and brown eyes. I wear glasses and am a little pale, not so much anymore because I got tan over the summer. I’m 4 ft 10 ½ (I know I’m short for my age, 20th percentile, but I’m growing.) I’m in 7th grade this year and am dying to be 13 (then I’ll finally be a teenager!). I have to get braces really soon right now I’m wearing a twin block to move my jaw forward. I had an overbite but it’s almost gone because my treatment for that will be over soon. Although braces are no walk in the sun, they’ve got to be better than this! I’m not popular but I’m not a loser and I’m actually pretty shy around other kids, unless I know them well.”

In middle school, Kristina was a 4.0 honor student who always strived for perfection in everything that she did. She was extremely artistic and her work was chosen, not only to be on the cover of the school yearbook but she was also selected to design the school t-shirts.  In an effort to overcome her shyness, she joined the student broadcasting staff, the yearbook staff and the newspaper staff.  And although she was admittedly not the best at sports, she joined the Swimming team, the Volleyball team, the Track team and even joined the Ski Club. She signed up for Forensics and earned a 3rd place trophy in the 2003 State Forensics Tournament. 

She later wrote that no one would ever know how hard that was for her. That was actually one of the proudest moments of her life.

 >
>
Kristina supported her school in every way imaginable and attended numerous sporting events, such as basketball and football.  At the end of the 8th grade, Kristina tried out for and made the JV Cheerleading team for High School. She wrote in her journal: 

“Me, Kristina Arielle Calco, I made the cheerleading squad for high school! JV too! I’m so proud of  myself!”

Despite all of her accomplishments however, there were some who would choose to drag Kristina down.

 >

Our first indication of what had happened was found in Kristina’s suicide note, which was written in the form of a poem. She wrote:

..
"I knew I was always the ugly one. Don't say that's a lie because you don't know what some kids have said and done. It hurts to think about how mean some people could be. Even when I started to look a little better, they still couldn't see.”
..
When we found that note, we were absolutely dumbfounded. Not only could we not make heads or tails of it, but we had absolutely no idea why she would write that. She had blossomed into a beautiful girl. And so our search for answers began.

 
>
Initially, we found 2 Instant Message Conversations in which Kristina said to a friend:

“You should have heard what they said to me in middle school. It was awful. I felt like crying.

Everyday this boy would tell me I was ugly and nasty, and then he got other people to say it too. It was torture and a living hell.”

In another IM conversation, she tells another person:

“Everyone I've ever liked has always rejected me for reasons of ‘God, you are so ugly’ or ‘I’d never go out with you’.”

When the other party questioned her about whether these words were actually spoken to her and what she did about it, Kristina replied "yes, they actually said those words to me and I cried a lot."

..
By this point, we began to question her group of friends, which included both her Middle school friends as well her High School friends. Yes, it was all true. We were told that Kristina was teased and tormented and ridiculed throughout her middle school years and up to at least the 9th grade. Neither she nor any of her friends ever told a single adult about what was going on. We were told that there was a particular group of boys that did this to her and that every day the girls would have to console Kristina in the cafeteria.  Her friends would reassure Kristina that she was not ugly and that she was beautiful. They thought they were doing the right thing. Unfortunately, the bullying never ended. Kristina, who was such a frail and sensitive girl, was made to feel ugly on a daily basis by a group of her own peers. By the time she was in the 9th grade, she had internalized the verbal assaults until she believed them with every grain of her soul.

To her friends and her classmates, Kristina, to quote a fellow classmate “was one of those rare gems that was as gorgeous on the inside as she was on the outside. She was incredibly multitalented, intelligent, and articulate, and she had a certain grace and class to her that many others her age lacked greatly.  There was something about her that just made the entire room light up. She exuded radiance and had a sparkling personality that led others to feel better without warning.”

..
She cared about everyone, to the detriment of even herself. She was kind and considerate and caring and always made people feel so good about themselves. Kristina worried about her friends, her bullies and the world around her. She wrote about her deep desire to help humanity in some way and that it was her hope to become a great scientist and find a cure for Cancer and for Aids.
..
This is the Eulogy that I wrote and read at Kristina’s visitation:
..
My daughter was a very sensitive young girl of 15 who sadly was just never meant to make it to her 16th birthday, which would have been 12/26/2005. To us and everyone else, this Saturday, (December 3rd, 2005) seemed not much different from any other Saturday. Kristina slept in, ate breakfast, showered and dressed. She asked to go to the library to get books for a project she was working on about John F. Kennedy. I dropped her off at the library while I drove to pick up my other daughter from dance class. After that I drove Kristina to the mall to do some shopping. She helped her friend get ready for the dance and decided that she’d like to go after all. When she came home she went directly upstairs to fix her hair. When she was done with her hair and makeup, we drove to get a dress at Marshall Fields. She chose the dress she wanted, we paid and we just cut the tags so she could wear it out. We drove home to get the $10 entrance fee and my husband. Kristina asked me how she looked, to which I replied that she looked great, which of course wasn’t what she wanted to hear. She had wanted me to tell her that she looked beautiful, which of course she did. Kristina told us the dance was over at 11 pm, so my husband arrived shortly after that to pick her up. He called her cell at which time she told him she’d made an error and that it was really over at 11:30. She came out sometime around 11:40 PM, came home, showed the other kids her dress, and proceeded to get on IM. I must have told her 6 times to take off her dress and get ready for bed. She asked me to take her picture first, which didn’t seem an unusual request as she did this for every dance she had. I took her picture and then went up to bed.
..
That’s the last time I saw Kristina alive.
..
Kristina never saw the gorgeous, bright, brilliant, intelligent, special person that she was. She couldn’t stand looking into mirrors because all she ever saw looking back at herself was “ugliness and fat”. So I don’t look”. 

 
“I just pretend I look really good, sometimes it’s really hard though because I don’t like being, thinking... that I’m pretty when I’m not."
..
For whatever reason, in the wee morning hours of Sunday December 4th, Kristina lost her focus. The stage had been set and with such a frail and sensitive soul, she just couldn’t bear the pain that had consumed her. In that one tiny infinitesimal instant, Kristina made the choice to kill herself. Suicide seemed her only escape… her only way out… her only way to end the pain.
..
You see, in Kristina’s mind, life was like a test, where there was supposed to be a perfect outcome. She was always looking for a certain set of steps to follow a clear, precise beginning, middle and end, and life just doesn’t conform to those rules, despite all the wishful thinking in the world. For Kristina, it was like trying to solve a math equation for which she’d been given the wrong formula from the start. No matter what she did, she just couldn’t get the correct answer.
..
In closing I want you all to know that Kristina could never have understood the finality of what she did. She wrote about it so often as if she could have done it any day or time, just as you or I would take a breath. I know that in her mind that she imagined it would be like simply walking away down a long road and just not coming back. In my heart, I know that she couldn’t possibly have fully realized how one person’s life could touch so many, many other people’s lives. ; She didn’t understand that once you are gone, you can never, never ever come back.
..
Kristina wrote in a 7th grade journal entry:
..
“The only reason I even bother to tell my sad sob story is that someday the public might know what a teenage girl goes through. So as you know nice guys finish last... well it might as well be nice girls finish last, too”.
....
Tragic as our story is to tell and live each day.  I feel that there are things to be learned from Kristina’s story.  Written in the hopes that no one else might ever have to awaken to such a blustery snowy morning as we did.
..
Michelle Calco

To read Kristina’s complete Life Story, please visit her memorial web page at http://www.theshabbycastle.com/kristinacalco

What are the 17 Signs that
Your Child is Being Bullied?
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So, your child IS being bullied…
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
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Q: Whose Problem is Bullying?
A: Bullying is an Adult Problem
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www.JaredStory.com/IsYourChildBeingBullied.pdf
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