INDEPENDENCE, IA (KCRG) -- About 20 percent of high school kids say they have been bullied on school grounds. That's according to a report by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.
16-year old Carson Orzechowski of Independence was bulled to the point where he thought of killing himself. He's overcome his anxiety and is ready to help others.
Orzechowski has been taking online classes with Iowa Virtual Academy for the last year. He stopped going to his high school after being constantly picked on.
"Verbal harassment like stuff like you don't belong here, and why are you even still alive,” he said. "There was instances of physical harassment, you know getting shoved around, getting shoved in the lockers, tripped, pushed.”
It even took a toll on his mother, Mary Close. "It was very, very hard. He missed a lot of school,” said Close. “He missed probably upwards of 30 days of school that year because he didn't want to go. I wasn't gonna force him to go. Towards the end, I wasn't going to force him to go. I wasn't going to put him in that situation."
Orzechowski says he would have anxiety attacks when he ran into classmates outside of school. He eventually broke down. "I spent almost a week in a mental hospital,” he explained.
That's when he realized he needed counseling. Mental Health experts say the best thing for kids to do when they're bullied is to speak up, and parents should take them seriously.
"If kids are coming forth and we notice any behavioral changes like if they're withdrawing, they seen pretty down, their grades all of a sudden are dropping to not just assume it's a phase." Said Kim Ellingson with Covenant Clinic Psychiatry.
Orzechowski has stopped going to counseling and is now making friends. He wants to tell his story to let people being bullied know that they can overcome it too, and also to tell bullies to back off
"Just leave them alone,” he pleads, “Just leave the people that you're hurting alone."