On Saturday, January 21, 2012, a Candlelight Memorial Vigil will be held for Bradford Fernandez in Tamarac Florida. Bradford was only 14 years old when he took his life on January 21, 2011. He was in 8th grade and attended Westpine Middle School in Sunrise.
The memorial is open to everyone and parents and teens are encouraged to attend as there will be an emotional presentation by Bradford’s mother Ana Fernandez. Fernandez, who has created the non-profit organization “The Bradford Organization,” will be discussing Bradford’s life in the hope that it may educate people about teen suicide and show how parents and teens can recognize the warning signs and get the help that they need before it’s too late.
A little about Bradford from his mother Ana Fernandez:
Bradford dreamed about going to the Marines and living in Alaska. He talked about getting married and having children.
“I would joke around with him, and his siblings, of how I would ‘spoil” my future grandchildren with chocolate and candies and then send them back home, said his mother Ana Fernandez, “We would all laugh at the idea.”
Bradford was looking forward to joining JROTC in 9th grade and told his mother, “Mom, let me enjoy my hair since I’m going to shave it off when I go to Piper High.”
He never made it to High School.
“His suicide came as a shock to us, his close friends (except for 2) and our community. Every day after my son’s death, I’ve asked myself, What happened that night? How could I have missed the signs? What did I fail to see?“
The night before Bradford appeared to be fine, texting on his phone and writing on Facebook.
They discovered after his death that the night before he died he was engaged in a suicide chat with two friends. Bradford told both of his friends he was going to kill himself that night.
None of them called the police.
“Bradford told the first friend, referred to as “Ipod,” at approximately 9 PM on January 20th of his intent to kill himself. He was specific with this friend. The police never told us the identity of Ipod. Although the messages from Ipod to Bradford seemed responsible, Ipod failed to call the police.
The second friend was a female; we can refer to her as ‘Friend B.’ She chatted with Bradford from 10:52 PM until he died, 3:33 am, January 21st. She called him a couple of times during the night as well. Her first text message to him was ‘please dont, that would kill me.’ Although their suicide chat continued for the rest of the night until he died, her text messages subtly changed from ‘trying to convince him’ to ‘comforting him’ in his last moments.”
To view her text messages to him, please visit In Memory of Bradford. Her text messages are perfect examples of what not to say, or do, when confronted by a suicidal person.
“We also found out, by her own statement (Friend B), that she told her mother on January 20th, at approximately 11 pm, but her mother did not believe her. Friend B believes that she tried all she could to help him.”
“Her belief is rooted in ignorance,” said Ana, “because she failed to acknowledge, and still does, that her best action would have been to call the police as soon as Bradford told her, or call my oldest son, who was 16 years at the time, since she had his phone number.”
“Instead, the police provided evidence that she texted my oldest son to check on your brother, at 4:20 am”.
It was too late. Bradford had been dead for approximately 50 minutes by then.
“The police also discovered 23 death drawings, kept by Bradford in his drawer, made by Friend B for Bradford during the last year of ways to kill him. In addition to the 23 death notes found by the police, we found three more inside his school folder, the last one being December 1st, on his birthday making it a total of 26 death drawings. Friend B claims it was a joke between her and my son. Along with death notes, Friend B posted violent comments to Bradford on his Facebook wall, along the lines of killing him and posted a disturbing, extremely violent video with a comment, ‘I should do this to you.'”
If you are faced with a suicidal person, do not play therapist. Listen to the person, stay with the person while you get them the help they need by calling a trained professional or police. Your options are:
- Call the police immediately if they tell you they are going to kill themselves, or, call one of the Suicidal hotlines (1-800-SUICIDE / 1-800-273-TALK)
- Call the parents or siblings of the suicidal person
- Tell your teacher if you are in school
- Call another friend you both share, who may live close by, and ask them to go and speak with the family of the suicidal friend, and
- Tell your parents.
It is too late for Bradford but it is not too late for others. According to Ana: At least seven people have committed suicide in Broward County under the age of 20 just in the past year.
In Bradford’s memory, she has created The Bradford Foundation and is looking for board members with experience in teen suicide. Ana’s goal is to educate both parents and students.
“Suicide education and training should be made a part of every school curriculum on a routine basis and a regular family topic of discussion. We teach our children to read, do math, and write. We need to teach our children consistently about how to save a life, possibly theirs. Prevention begins with each of us.”
To learn how you can work together with your school in preventing suicide, please visit The Bradford Foundation. The Bradford Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to Suicide Prevention and the mental, spiritual and emotional well-being of the teens in our community.
Additional details on the foundation will be released at the end of our Memorial Vigil for Bradford on January 21, 2012.
Memorial for Bradford Fernandez
Community Christian Church, 2nd Floor
10001 West Commercial Boulevard, Tamarac, Florida
Time: 5:45 PM – 7:00 PM
After the Vigil, we will be gathering at Sunrise Athletic Center for food, drinks and releasing balloons.
Please bring a pot luck item from Publix.
Click here for the flyer invitation and details of what you can bring.
To learn more about Bradford, visit his website at: In Memory of Bradford