Thirteen-year-old Ceejay Smith’s death was a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened, his aunt Rhonda Smith said at a memorial service held on Sunday, Dec. 18.
Ceejay, an Elk Lake eighth grader, died by suicide on Dec. 5 after giving up his “fight against bullying,” his obituary read.
Rhonda Smith said the family wanted to be public about his death in an effort to raise awareness. “We want to make sure Ceejay’s voice is heard, and that this does not happen to another family,” she said.
According to Rhonda, Pennsylvania State Police are still investigating the matter. The bullying situation took place in school, she added.
“There are kids who saw it happen who are now destroyed,” she said. “They were scared to say anything. If we all stood up against bullying, this could stop.”
“Different is supposed be acceptable,” Rhonda said. “We’re having a hard time with that.”
Pastor Josh Rydell offered brief remarks at the service. His son, Ethan, was one of Ceejay’s friends.
“Ceejay knew how to touch someone,” Rydell said. “He had a real love, real heart. It’s people like that in life that touch us in a special way.
“We, as people, have the power to build up or break down. We use words to tear (people) down or rip them apart. It happens all too often.
“You have real power to build each other up, and find strength in each other through times like these.”
And as a parent of one of Ceejay’s friends, he offered, “There are things in our lives that leave us feeling broken. As a parent, this knocks the wind out of your sails.”
Rydell also reminded those gathered at the service that the love they feel for Ceejay can be used to help other people in the world.
According to Ceejay’s aunt, all of his organs were viable and donated.
“I know God has used him to bless so many other people,” Rydell said. “People had their prayers answered by Ceejay going home to be with the Lord. I’m not sure how it fits into God’s plan, but He’s in control.”
Jane Howell also spoke during the service. “One act does not define a life,” she said, acknowledging Ceejay’s death had left some people angry. “This was the result of a deep personal fight within himself.”
Howell remembers Ceejay’s compassion, kindness and his singing voice. “Remember the things he did to bring a smile to your face,” she said.
The Smith family has started the Ceejay Smith Humanitarian award #BeaHero campaign. Plans for the award include a scholarship given in Ceejay’s name to a graduating student.
“We need this to mean something,” Rhonda said. “We will continue to be his voice.”
Donations to the Ceejay Humanitarian Award can be made at Peoples Security Bank and Trust.
For information on becoming an organ donor, visit www.donors1.org.