Mother fights to prove bullying played role in son's death
HOWARD COUNTY —
The park at Rogers Lake in Fayette holds a lot of memories for Angela Suttner.
She remembers fishing there with her husband and four boys: Ryan, Kenny, Jackson and Logan. The Suttners would celebrate holidays like Mother's and Father's days on the lake and at the playground.
"I remember the last time all my boys were on the merry-go-round and just laughing," Suttner said.
"It's a lot of great memories."
Today, when Suttner goes to this park, or anywhere, one of her family members is missing.
Kenny Suttner took his own life on December 21, 2016. He was 17 years old.
A coroner's inquest showed Kenny was bullied at school and work. Multiple witness testified to the torture Kenny endured. The inquest said his boss at his part-time job screamed and cursed at him publicly. Nearly 260 pages detailed witness testimony of what Kenny went through.
His mother said the harassment her son endured is the reason he ended his life.
"I don't think he had a single day where he didn't have something said to him," she said.
Despite the things that were said to Kenny, Angela said he didn't have a mean bone in his body. She talked about the kindness he showed to people - even sticking up for others who were being bullied.
Now 16 months after his death, Angela said every day is different. She still grieves the loss of her "Kenny Bug." She said she misses him dearly and her family will never be the same.
She had to find a way to push forward - to keep going - and becoming a champion for kids who are being bullied was the only way she knew how.
Angela started the "We Roar For Kenny Bug" Facebook group - a place to remember Kenny and bring people together who want to fight for bullying prevention. Through the online group and the publicity her son's story gained, she has met countless people, some who also lost their loved ones to suicide, others looking for advice on how to help their teens.
Angela said her biggest piece of advice to those whose kids are being bullied is to document everything.
"Write it down," she said.
"Write down when you called, who you talked to, what they said, what happened after the effect. Was there anything done period?"
Angela said the work she does now - advocating for others and continuing to be Kenny's voice - can be hard. She said some days she doesn't want to talk about the loss she's experienced, but she keeps fighting.
"That's all I know that [Kenny] would want me to keep doing is to make this stop," she said.
"Not another child lost. Not another child to feel so worthless."
In May, Suttner will travel to Florida to advocate for positive workplace environments. Additionally, an award is being given in honor of Kenny through Bianca's Kids - an organization that grants wishes to children in need. The award will recognize kids who meet certain criteria and are helping make a difference in their community.
She is also working to get Senate Bill 791, or "Kenny's Law," passed. This would charge individuals with involuntary manslaughter if they knowingly provoke anyone to commit suicide and their provocations result in death. The bill also includes incitement through the phone or via the internet.
With tear-filled eyes, Angela said she knows none of this can bring her son back, but she won't quit. She said now, she is focused on making sure other kids get the help they need.
"I take it as the only thing I can do for him now, and that's the only thing that keeps me going," she said.
"It's hard, but I won't stop. Whether it's one child we can help or a thousand it's worth it to me."