A Teen Suicide That Wasn’t
I was trying to go to bed, actually. I had finished up what I had to do for the night and was tired. I rarely ever use my twitter. For whatever reason, last night I did decide to check it to see what was going on there. And, right before my eyes, trending at the moment was RIPMatt. Another apparent teen suicide. Suddenly, I was wide awake again.
I’m reading every tweet that comes along. One after the other after another, they were wishing Matt a fond farewell. And, they were voicing their anger at yet another teen suicide from bullying. Another bullycide. So, the natural thing for me to do is to start digging for more information. I’m following links; I’m asking questions; I’m googling…anything that would shed some light on what was going on. Nothing. No news anywhere. However, I know from past experiences that that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Often times, the actual news story comes later. There was one instance earlier in the year where my blog entry was the breaking news on a teen suicide. Finally, I gave in to my leadened eyelids and called it a night, figuring that I’d exhausted every avenue I could think of. “There’s bound to be more information about it when I wake up” was my thought process. And, there was.
As it turns out, Matt is alive and well. There’s no telling how the rumor started or what made it, at one point, the 4th highest trending story on twitter. I didn’t ask. What mattered most was that another teen wasn’t lost to suicide. The page that was a RIP page when I went to bed had been converted to a community page, “Stop Bullying, End Suicide“. The creator of the page figured that since there were already a substantial number of people there, initially to “pay tribute” to someone they thought was gone, they may as well keep the page and turn it into a a community for helping. There are great people out there. So, please take time out, click that link, and “like” their page. They’re the newest members of an ever-growing army and obviously great people.
Once the dust settled and we realized that young Matt was, indeed, still very much alive and well, I took a moment (or, two) to reflect back upon what had just occurred. There are valuable lessons to be learned from this:
- Spreading news about a suicide is never a good thing unless there are facts. I don’t know how this one got started, and it doesn’t matter. However, it’s apparent that somebody, somewhere, posted something they shouldn’t have posted. And, it mushroomed around the globe quickly. People were upset. People were crying. What happens if some young person is right there at their own breaking point when they hear something like this? News of yet another bullycide could be just enough to push them over the edge.
- Whereas it’s a great thing that so many people, and from all over the world, are now aware of the great harm that bullying causes and its devastating effects, it’s also important to know that not every teen suicide is due to bullying. Every single tweet last night was either denouncing the bullying Matt “endured” or speaking out angrily about bullying in general. While it’s a great thing that so many people are now in tune with the dilemma and are willing to speak up about it, again it’s just as important to know that bullying isn’t always the cause. Jamie Hubley didn’t commit suicide because he was bullied, although he had been a couple times. He committed suicide because he suffered from depression. So, having the facts right is important. One guy even went as far as to name the “bully”.
- I must have read over 1,000 tweets last night. The vast majority of them were issuing both mandates and pleas for the bullying to stop. “No one deserves to be bullied like he was”. If nothing else I say makes sense, I want this point to be crystal clear. Talking about stopping the bullying means nothing at all without action. I’ll never know the exact number of tweets that were sent throughout the night. I can tell you that it was well into the thousands. Now, ask yourself: “what would this world be like if just the people who were part of the trending last night were to each do something, just one thing!, every single day to help prevent the bullying and end the suicides?
Let your imagination run with that one for a while. Then, realize that that’s exactly the type of effort we need to combat this. The bright news is that out of the rubble of last night’s false alarm has come another, new battalion in the army that’s ever-forming in an effort to, indeed, Stop Bullying, End Suicide. Give them your support as they try to grow their group. Then, roll up your sleeves. We’ve got a lot of work to do.