Cosby lawmaker blames suicide on bad parenting, not bullying

Cosby lawmaker blames suicide on bad parenting, not bullying

Rep. Jeremy Faison (source: Tennessee General Assembly) Rep. Jeremy Faison (source: Tennessee General Assembly)

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A local lawmaker is feeling the heat after a comment he made about bullying and suicide on the State House floor Tuesday.

Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby suggested that when a child commits suicide it's not because of bullying, it's because of bad parenting.

"We've had some horrible things happen in America and in our state and there's children that have actually committed suicide, but I will submit to you today that they did not commit suicide because of somebody bullying them. They committed suicide because they were not instilled the proper principles of where their self esteem came from," Faison said Tuesday.

Faison was speaking in opposition to current cyber bullying legislation that criminalizes bullying. But Wednesday he says he regrets his choice of words.

"That was really a botched attempt at protecting children from becoming criminals. I wish I wouldn't have said it and to the ones I offended I am truly sorry and I would never want to hurt anyone who has had suicide touch their family," he told 6 News.

The Tennessee Democratic Party responded in minutes via social media calling Faison's remarks "a disgrace."

"It's really shameful to think that the state leaders would be saying things that disparage those families and cast some hurt on those parents for them trying the best they could do," said Brandon Puttbrese, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Democratic Party.  

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network also had a strong reaction to Tuesday's remarks.

"We are very disappointed that any public official would make a statement implying bullying does not have an effect on suicide because that is untrue. But we appreciate that he has reworded his comments," said Scott Ridgway, the executive director of TSPN.

The current cyber bullying law went into effect last summer and makes it a crime to post on the Internet any image that causes emotional distress to anyone.

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