Although it feels like the last few years have brought a little progress where bullying is concerned, we still have a lot to accomplish. The family of a 12-year-old girl in North Dakota is grieving today after she took her own life on Saturday. (3/30)

The family of Cherish, who went by "Chance," says she was the victim of intense bullying at school during the last six months of her life. In her heartfelt obituary, they've asked parents to talk to their children about bullying, whether they've been a victim, an observer, and especially if they've taken part in bullying others.

I urge parents to read Cherish's obituary below, and if your children are of the appropriate age, ask them to read it as well. Pay especially close attention to the highlighted portion in the sixth paragraph below.


Cherish “Chance” was born on July 17, 2005, in Minot, ND, to Nathan Houle and Jessica Chiefstick. She grew up in Minot and began attending school there. In 2009, Cherish and her family moved to Bismarck where she continued her education in Bismarck. Most recently, she was attending the 7th grade in Bismarck.

Cherish was an uplifting person to be around, always concerned for the well-being of those around her. She always had a smile on her face and loved nothing more than to make people laugh. Cherish was very close to her family and enjoyed talking to people about her siblings and parents and loved them deeply. She loved to draw and listen to music.

Cherish experienced intense pain most people her age will never know. Throughout the last 6 months of her life, she experienced continual transition and intense bullying at school. While the news is currently highlighting violence as the result of bullying. Cherish’s support systems saw a very different result. Those who loved Cherish didn’t know how unbearable that pain she was experiencing had become for her. The support and love she was able to receive from those around her wasn’t enough to heal the scars of the relentless bullying she had already suffered. Cherish didn’t harm others or turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with her pain, she took her life on March 31st, 2018.

The word bullying doesn’t begin to encompass ugliness and pain it causes. The ugly truth of bullying is someone who loved Cherish had to open the bedroom door and see what they saw on Saturday. The ugly truth of bullying is those who loved Cherish can’t close their eyes at night because they can’t get the image out of their head. The ugly truth of bullying is doing CPR for 4 minutes and 26 seconds. It’s listening to 911 operator tell you to go faster and push harder. It’s knowing that you didn’t open the door early enough for it to matter anyway. It’s that Cherish isn’t here anymore.

The Houle/Chiefstick family lost a beautiful member of their family. Cherish was a beautiful soul who no longer has to suffer pain and rejection here on Earth.

Cherish’s family and support systems want the public to be aware of her situation in hopes that it will prevent tragedies such as this from occurring again. They are asking that parents talk to their children and find out answers to hard questions. Are they being bullied? Are they the bully? Have they witnessed bullying and it broke their heart, but they were glad they weren’t the target today? Did they not know what to do and walked away? Or joined in the laughter because they didn’t want to attract the attention of other bullies in the crowd. We are asking you to teach your children that our words are our most powerful resource and we need to be careful to use that precious resource to positively affect people. Teach your children what to do if someone they know is talking about suicide. Teach them who to call for help.

To those of you who were kind to Cherish, thank you. Your love and acceptance meant the world to her. To Cherish, thank you for coming into all our lives. We are all much better for it. Fly high and carry our love forever. You will be greatly missed.

She is survived by her mom, Jessica; her dad, Nathan; siblings, Santana, Sonte, Maliyah, Nathan Jr., and Yuri; her grandmas, Marina Cheifstick and Judy Nelson; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

She was preceded in death by her grandpas, Leon Houle and Noble Mooseamen; her aunts, Deena and Kristen; and her uncle, Leslie.

Visitation will be held Thursday, April 5, 2018, from 10am-12 Noon at Eastgate Funeral Service, 2302 E Divide Ave., in Bismarck, ND.

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