ronkempmusic

Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Posts Tagged ‘understanding depression

More of Jordan Halmich: A Word from a Parent

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We all know by now that bullying has played a role, big and small, in many teen suicides.  You’ve read about some of them here.  If you’ve been a regular follower of this blog, or if you’re a member of the facebook blog page, you’ve also read many times where I’ve said that “…not all teens who commit suicide are LGBT teens, and not all teen suicides are in response to being bullied”.  Over the past year, I’ve watched, both on some of my own blog posts and on other articles, as well, as people would a.) read about another teen suicide and instantly respond “Bullying has to end!!” and/or b.) make a statement that goes like this:  “it’s a shame that these teens are killing themselves for being bullied just because they’re gay.”

NOT EVERY TEEN WHO COMMITS SUICIDE IS LGBT; NOT EVERY TEEN WHO COMMITS SUICIDE WAS BULLIED; EVERY SINGLE TEEN SUICIDE IS TRAGIC!  

The mother of Jordan Halmich, one of the three teens who committed suicide in a seven-week period, left a comment on the blog that prompted me to respond to her via email as opposed to simply replying to the comment:

I am the mother of Jordan Halmich, and just to make this all clear, Jordan was not bullied  He didn’t take his own life because of being bullied.  He had been depressed.  He came to me. and I took him the assistant principal and called in the alt ED counselor and had them evaluate him.  At that point, he was given a therapist, which he was seeing as well as had the assistant principal and alt ED teacher whom he trusted.  He talked with Jordan, and I talked as well.  His problem was not being ignored.  I was so upset to see all this published and people just jumping on the bandwagon of what people were saying, that the three suicides were caused from bullying.  Well, I am here to tell you get off that bandwagon and get the story straight:  Jordan Halmich, 16, of St. Clair, took his own life on Sept. 28 due to severe depression that his family and many others were trying to help him with and that we don’t know and never will know the true state of where his mind was that dreadful day that he saw no other way to end his depression that day than to take his own life.   As a parent, to face life everyday without him here, and for his father, his brothers, his other family, and many friends, is the most empty, hurtful feeling to go through in life, so seeing all this online reporting of non-truth about Jordan is hurtful and all the pictures, comments that they dug up and found just goes to show that social media is out of control.  Nothing is private anymore, and that is where the problem truly lies this day and age.

I don’t agree with bullying, and I am not saying it isn’t a problem and that, if it is happening, that it doesn’t need to be addressed or dealt with.  It does.  I always taught my kids that “no one is better than you”, not to ever let anyone make you feel that way and, by all means, you stand up for yourself and don’t let anyone treat you as if you don’t matter.  My kids didn’t let that happen and still don’t.  Jordan was only 5ft 3in and would stand up to someone 6ft tall without fear.  So, believe me, he was not bullied.  I, as a parent, would not let someone bully my children for more than 1 day without me taking care of it, anyway I could, to make it stop.  If we don’t fight for our children, then who will?  It’s our job to love and protect our children, and I take that very seriously.In the blog post, itself, I specified that “It is alleged that he’d been bullied.”  Now, we know for sure that he wasn’t

Last year’s suicide death of Jamie Hubley was similar in that people were, and still are, beating the “bully drum” when, in fact, it wasn’t bullying at all.  The role that bullying played in Jamie’s suicide was miniscule in comparison to the level of depression he was locked in to.  Had he been bullied?  There were a couple of instances.  But, it wasn’t why he ended his life.  Same is true with Jordan Halmich.  Was he bullied?  His mother says a definitive and emphatic “no”.  Jordan suffered from a deep depression that, much like Jamie, no one could save him from despite the efforts of his loved ones.

Following Jamie Hubley’s suicide, I had the honor of meeting several of members of his family.  As was the case with Jordan’s family, they were keenly aware that Jamie wasn’t dealing with severe depression, and they were doing everything humanly possible to help him see his way through it.  What Jordan’s mother said to me was almost identical, nearly verbatim!, to what one of Jamie’s family members told me about his suicide last year:

I just want people to know he was not bullied and I did not turn a blind eye to him or his depression. I was on top of it and got him help from staff, therapists, doctors, his family and friends.  He was not alone.  We were all here and trying to help.  He was an energetic, fun, had a huge heart and was loved by many.  His smile and outgoing attitude made him several friends, and that is way I want him remembered. I don’t want anyone thinking I am, or anyone else is, trying to point fingers and place blame for what he did, and I definitely don’t want it being believed that he was bullied when he wasn’t.

That’s a simple and reasonable request.  Teen suicide is tragic, regardless of the reasoning behind it.  Sure, the pain and even anger are both magnified when bullying is involved; however, the fact of the matter is not every teen suicide is the result of bullying.  In our hard-fought efforts to get both the bullying epidemic and explosion of teen suicides under control, it’s important to the families of those lost to suicide to understand that simple fact.

******************************SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES******************************

UNDERSTANDING TEEN DEPRESSION

SUICIDE PREVENTION TOOLKIT (pdf)

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE

BEFRIENDERS

 

Setting the Record Straight

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After writing a blog post about one of the recent suicide victims, I received an email:

Why did you post a facebook page suggesting [the suicide victim] was gay?  Take is down…his parents don’t need that sh*t.

Alarmed, I rushed to reread what I had written.  There was absolutely nothing in that article to suggest that he that he was gay, so I responded accordingly.

There is absolutely nothing in my article to suggest that he was gay. I made it a point to make sure that there was nothing that would even remotely suggest that he was. People make assumptions, and I can’t control that. It’s unfortunate, and I often warn against that. Yet, they continue to do it. I tried my very best to be as honest and objective is the article as I possibly could, hence the opening paragraph clearly setting aside the earlier rumor of there being bullying

It raises an important issue:  far too often, people see the words “teen” and “suicide”, and there’s an automatic rush-to-judgment that said teen was a.) gay, and b.) bullied.  Whereas that is an issue, and a very serious one at that, it’s obviously not always the case.  Because of that rising issue, the issue of rushing to judgment, I even started that particular article off with the disclaimer that the person had not been bullied.  And, I took special care to make sure that nowhere in the article would I even allude to the notion that he was an LGBT teen.  Still, with all the precautions, some of the comments responded as if he were both LGBT and bullied.  He was a teenager who ended his life far, far too soon, and that’s really all we need to know.  At least in this particular case.

I woke up this morning to an email response from the person who had initially emailed me about this.

I don’t Facebook, my business is nobody else’s business.  Your facebook page is misleading even if unintentional, just look at the comments.  I have a son, 15, just like [the suicide victim], a jock, in fact, playing [the suicide victim's] team tonite (probably will be cancelled).  This Facebook page is hurtful to his parents and should be taken down…you are far, far removed from this event.
I also believe all this glamorizing of the death…tributes, tee shirts, facebook pages, tweets (“look **** you’re famous” said one girl) will encourage the next depressed kid to go out in a blaze of glory.

Now,  that’s a horse of a different color.  Now, I’m under attack for the integrity of the work I’m attempting to do.  Look, I get the part about glamorization of teen suicides.  I, too, am concerned that perhaps the Internet is helping to propel the acceleration of these events.  And, make no mistake:  we are seeing an acceleration.  To wit, from perusing another facebook page honoring those young people who are gone too soon, I was able to see a disturbing reality:  for every suicide that I write about, there’s at least one that I didn’t know about.  That’s not a brush fire.  That’s a firestorm.  That said, and armed with that knowledge, I do my best to stay away from glamorizing a very solemn event.  What’s needed is awareness.  And, more of it.  For far too long, these devastating events have gone unreported, and under-reported.  Because of that, this has been going on in relative silence.  And, because of that, no one except for the families and friends of the victims had knowledge of this problem.  This is a cancer to the body of our society.  Early detection saves lives.  Left undetected and untreated, it kills.

The facebook blog page was created in December to support the blog, itself.  In truth, I was having issues with facebook and the posting of the blog’s link.  It has grown into a sizable, interactive community of awareness and support.  Its message is clear:  love and acceptance.  People there help one another, talk to each other, support those who need support.  Lives are being saved through the blog and the blog page:

I wanted to contact you to say, simply, thank you.
I was considering suicide tonight, but decided against it, and your blog Enough is Enough was a major reason why I didn’t. I am a 19 year old closeted bisexual male. Thank you for everything you are doing for not only the LGBT community, but for humanity as a whole. Your blog brought me to tears.
Again, thank you. I owe you big time.

It’s because of this email, and others like it, that I will continue pressing forward.  As for the recent emails complaining about what I do, I offer this:  a look at some of the comments will show you that some of his friends have read the article and left their heartfelt comments.  Follow their lead.

Spencer Watson Seupel 1990-2012

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Making sense of a suicide is a daunting task at best.  In many, if not most, cases, it’s an impossible one.  Friday, Spencer Watson Seupel, 21, ended what promised to be a brilliant, productive, happy life.  He wasn’t bullied.  There’s no indication anywhere of him being gay.  Still, in a moment of impulsivity, he’s gone.

Spencer’s suicide was the result of binge drinking.  Alcohol.  That cunning, and quite legal, drug that claims thousands of lives annually.  At the root of the suicide, however, was something deeper.  I certainly cannot tell the story any better than his own mother.  It’s a very compelling story, indeed.

In the media, and in the circles of social media, we hear a lot about bullying as it pertains to young people ending their lives.  And, make no mistake, bullying is an issue that demands a lot of immediate attention as it truly is playing a large role in many, many teen suicide.  However, bullying is not the only reason young people commit suicide.  Understanding that is a vital baby step in the right direction.  Knowing some of the other issues that leads young people to feel suicide is the only answer is an essential quantum leap in that same direction.

Depression has been named in many teen suicides even since I began this blog in November.  In some instances, even if there’s been bullying, depression was the actual root.  The bullying simply exacerbated an already volatile situation.  Understanding depression isn’t restricted to just the psychiatric field by any stretch.  We can educate ourselves, as well.  We can, and we must if we’re to save lives.  But, the vast majority of us are not professionals in the field of mental health.  Therefore, how would we know?  How could we spot it?  And, better still, what do we do when we do recognize it?  That’s where educating ourselves comes in.

See, if we’re to truly make a difference, if we’re really serious about bringing about change, it’s going to take so much more than just ranting about how bad it is that all these beautiful young souls are killing themselves or how horrifying it is that these young people are being bullied.  And, that’s not said in a derogatory manner by any means.  I do as much ranting as any two people combined!  That said, and beyond the ranting, it’s going to take real action if we’re to rein this back in.  It can be done.

Sometimes, something as simple as a kind word, or an attentive ear can make a difference in a young person’s life.  Far too many of these young people feel disconnected, a sense of worthlessness even as their families and friends surround and shower them with love and attention.  Self-esteem appears to be a major factor.  So, giving them positive reinforcements regularly helps bolster their low sense of worth.  As non-professionals, we can still help reverse that by reminding them, constantly, of the positives in their lives.

For Spencer, perhaps it was a mixture of all the above.  Certainly, the drug we call alcohol delivered the final blow.  But, there were already mechanisms in place that created the environment, if only in his own mind, that made Spencer feel suicide was the answer.  His loving family is left to attempt to put the pieces of this puzzle together.  I hope Spencer can now find the peace that eluded him here on Earth

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