By Stephen E. Lipken
Yankee pitching great Mariano Rivera, was guest speaker at the New Rochelle Middle and High School (NRHS) “Family U” Student Panel at NRHS Whitney Young Auditorium on March 27, presented by NRHS PTSA, sponsored by NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital.
Rivera discussed his experience with childhood bullying.
“The way I faced it, sometimes we had to fight,” Rivera noted. “I told the kids, that is not the right way. I was trying to defend myself but there are other ways to defend ourselves and I wanted to make sure the kids got that message. No matter who it is, strong or weak, you don’t fight.
“You have your parents. You have your school principal. You have your leaders. They are willing to help. That is the right way to overcome bullying. If you are getting bullied, talk about it. Don’t hold it, don’t be quiet, don’t bottle it in. You bottle that thing, that bottle explodes. That’s when a lot of things happen. You see a lot of people getting hurt. This is why I advise people to talk about it.”
At the Linda Kelly Theater, Stephanie Marquesano discussed co-occurring disorders (COD), one or more mental health challenges leading to substance misuse and/or addiction, founding the “Harris Project” to combat COD in memory of her son, Harris Blake Marquesano, diagnosed with COD and ADHD who died of an accidental overdose.
Next, Dr. Despina Hatziergati, pointed out that suicide is the second cause for teen deaths; behind accidents and ahead of homicides. She urged parents to watch for excess sleeping and comments such as, “I wish that I wasn’t born/alive.” It was pointed out that opioid abuse could result from painkiller prescriptions to remove wisdom teeth.
Author and family life coach Joshua Wayne talked about his encounter with Miguel, whose mother overdosed, leaving him and his siblings alone in their apartment. After years of intensive rehabilitation, Miguel was well enough to join the Army but died from a suicide bomber in Iraq.
Wayne listed four tools: 1) Connection is currency; 2) Listen, not lecture; 3) Choose your battles wisely; 4) Play the long game—step back.
Stephanie Humphrey warned the audience that the internet is permanent, searchable and recoverable.