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

Rest In Peace, Lennon Baldwin, 15: Suicide from Bullying

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Wednesday was a bad day.  In addition to the 12-year-old in West Virginia who ended his life due to bullying, Lennon Baldwin, 15, of New Jersey ended his young life as well.  Police in Morristown are investigating the suicide for the possibility of bullying.lennon-baldwin2-300x199

By all accounts, Lennon was a very well-liked, happy young man with an infectious smile.  I’ve witnessed, as well, that he was a very gifted, blooming artist.  A friend of Lennon’s posted this video as a tribute to his fallen friend.  A rising star now dimmed by suicide.

Unlike some other jurisdictions, the authorities in Morristown are on record as saying they are doing a “full investigation” into the suicide.  At this point, it is unclear whether bullying was the cause or not.

Teen suicide, whatever the reason, regardless of their sexual orientation, is an issue that absolutely has to be addressed with the same urgency as a recently reported “epidemic” of teen smoking.  If not moreso.  After all, we can get teens to stop smoking.  No one has figured out how to stop anyone from being dead.  Once the suicide attempt is successful, that’s it.  A young life is senselessly and needlessly snuffed out.  Dreams are extinguished.  Families and friends are left with hearts ripped as they try to make sense of it all.

What is the solution?  I wish I could answer that.  Right now, no one can.  However, there are things we can do to put a serious dent in what’s going on.

For starters, we can work as one in convincing the people who lead that teen suicide is a very serious issue in our culture, not only in our country but worldwide.  It is a plague that deserves the full-attention of every politician, every religious leader, every school administrator across the board.

The scourge of bullying, which is at the root of far too many teen suicides needs to be met head-on and dealt with.  In some ways, that’s easier said than done.  Why?  Because on one level, it’s very easy for us all, including myself, to call for the heads of those who bully another human being to the point where they feel the only way to make it stop is to end their own life.  And, indeed, I do feel that those who continually and willfully bully a person should be held accountable if that person commits suicide because of their actions.  It’s no different than the bully holding a gun to that same person’s head and pulling the trigger.  They are just as dead either way.  The difference is, in this case, the one who pulled the trigger is obviously charged with murder.  So, why should bullying someone to the point where he or she feels the only way out is commit suicide be any different.  Why?  Because it’s more complex than that.  See, on another level is the reality that we, as humans, are not born to hate.  We are not born intolerant.  The exact opposite it true.  That means that they are taught these emotions and behaviors.  And, unfortunately in this case, a young person’s brain is a sponge.  They learn well.  So, to get at the root of bullying, it is imperative to start with the adults.  If Johnny constantly hears his dad, his religious leader, or political leaders constantly express their disdain, their intolerance and hatred of certain groups of people, whether it’s different races or people of a different sexual orientation, he’s learning from them that it’s ok to treat these people like they don’t belong.  It’s ok to call them the most degrading names.  It’s ok to bring physical harm to them.  No!!  It’s NOT ok!!!  And, everyone, from the adults to the young ones, needs to understand that.  Every single life is precious.

Another big contributor to teen suicides is mental health issues.  Leading the way in this area is depression.  Knowing the symptoms of depression is a crucial first-step.  Knowing how to deal with teen depression can be life-saving.

We can only hope for a speedy solution, one that will lead to a reduction and eventual end to the bullying/teen suicide epidemic.

Unfortunately, all of our efforts will be too late for the family and friends of Lennon Baldwin.  All we can do for them now is wrap our arms around them and support them as they struggle mightily to make sense of this.  We can go to the facebook page set up in Lennon’s honor and leave our condolences.  And, we can pray that he now finds the peace he was denied while he was here with us.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS BEING BULLIED, SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY!!  DON’T STOP SEEKING HELP UNTIL YOU FIND SOMEONE WHO WILL LISTEN AND TAKE ACTION.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE SUICIDAL, PLEASE SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY!!  THERE ARE MANY, MANY RESOURCES AROUND FOR YOU.  

Suicide Support 

STOP Teenage Suicide  

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  

UPDATE:

I erroneously stated earlier in this that Lennon was an artist “as seen in this video”. The artist in the video is his friend, Andrew, who drew the picture of Lennon as a tribute.  Sorry for the confusion.

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Written by Ron Kemp

March 31, 2012 at 4:10 am

One Response

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  1. This kind of thing makes me both angry and sad. That a teen is bullied so much that they end their own life is heart-wrenching. How can this be allowed to go on? There need to be some big changes in the system regarding bullying. I for one have been bullied myself, though nowhere near as bad as some other teens experience. I know how much it hurts, and how much of an effect it can have on your self-esteem and outlook on life.
    This kind of stuff needs to stop. There need to be more strict rules and less forgiving punishments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a bully needs to be thrown in jail for the rest of their life, but there needs to be change. I wish I knew how to make it come about.
    R.I.P Lennon Baldwin.

    skirised

    April 4, 2012 at 6:24 am


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