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

Kenneth James Weishuhn, 14: Death by Suicide in Iowa

with 28 comments

Last night, Saturday, April 14th, 14-year-old Kenneth James Weishuhn, of Primghar, Iowa, succumbed to the bullying he’d been receiving since coming out as an LGBT teen back in a couple short months ago.  In looking at the few pictures of Kenneth I’ve been able to see online, he was a very happy young man.  Handsome and full of life.  In talking to some of his friends and family tonight, they confirmed just that.  More than that, though, they expressed how much he was loved by them.Kenneth-James-Weishuhn-Jr.Unfortunately, coming out of the closet cost him his young life.  The bullying was relentless and severe to the point where he couldn’t take it any longer.  No one, and I mean no one should have to sacrifice their life simply because of who they are.  Yet, we’re seeing it happen over and over and over again.  The question that’s begging to be answered is “how many more teen suicides do we have to endure before everybody realizes that we have an enormous problem on our hands?”  How many more parents have to endure the pain of having to bury their teenaged child because he or she were bullied to break point before the politicians, school administrators, religious leaders become proactive and stop treating this as a mere annoyance?  The people I talked to tonight are in real pain.   Some were crying real tears.  This is a very real problem, one that needs a very real solution.  And, the attention given to it needs to be immediate.

It’s not enough to say “the ones who bullied him to a point where he took his life will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.”  That’s true.  However, there’s two problems with that:  1.) if they were cold-hearted enough to do this in the first place, chances are they’re not going to lose much sleep over the fact that their actions caused someone to end their life; and, 2.) the families and friends of the victim also has to live with the bully’s actions for rest of their lives.  And, that’s unacceptable.Kenneth Weishuhn2Two of Kenneth’s friends, Kristi and Brandi, made a youtube video in tribute to their gone-too-soon friend.  It moved me to tears.  He truly seemed to be a very happy teen, and the love he had surrounding him was apparent.  Unfortunately, however, it wasn’t enough to overcome the brutal bullying he had to endure.

We can no longer afford to wait for our “leaders” to come to a solution with this issue.  Too many lives are being lost.  I’ve written about 3 in the past 9 days!  And, believe this:  for the three I’ve written about, there are at least three more somewhere around the world that I don’t know about.  Yet, our leaders are treating a 5-alarm blaze like a brush fire.  It’s time…it’s past time!!!…for every concerned citizen, young or old, black or white, gay or straight, Christian or atheist to do their part in bringing this sad chapter to an abrupt end.

  • Let the politicians know that it’s not okay that they are putting their political/religious views before these young people’s lives;
  • Let the hateful “religious leaders” know that it is not acceptable that they spew utter hatred in towards members of the LGBT community God’s name.  Hate speech is NOT freedom of speech;
  • Let the school administrators know that it’s not acceptable that the bullying epidemic runs rampant in today’s school, that they are required to protect every single student in their charge, all-inclusive;
  • Let the young people in your lives, directly or indirectly, know that it’s okay to let someone know when they’re being bullied.  In fact, it’s expected of them.  If one person doesn’t listen, go to another.  Repeat that process until they find someone who will listen and take action.

It’s going to take every single one of us, the everyday Joe, the concerned citizen, to bring about the changes that will rid our society once and for all of the bullying and teen suicides.  Sadly, all of our efforts won’t bring back Kenneth James Weishuhn.  We lost him last night because someone felt it was okay to bully him until he broke.  It wasn’t okay.

There’s a facebook page in Kenneth’s memory.  Take the time out to express your condolences and thoughts.  Also, I’ve been told that there is a fund set up to help his family bury him.  As soon as I have a link for that, I will pass it along.

I can’t express enough to the family and friends of Kenneth how sorry I am for your loss.  I can only say that my heart goes out to you.  To you, Kenneth James Weishuhn, rest in peace.  They can’t hurt you now.Kenneth Weishuhn

28 Responses

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  1. I read all of your blogs, thank you for all you do for our children.

    May Kenneth rest in peace now. My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones.

    The school my children go to has a ZERO TOLERANCE policy on bullying and they follow thru, no empty threats. They have installed cameras so they have proof of bullying and they are not afraid to anger parents by suspending kids from school. It happens again, they are gone from the school. They make sure the record of bullying follows to whatever new school the bully goes to. It takes a strong school board and employees to make sure our kids are safe. The kids are no longer afraid to report bullying. The school makes sure they receive counselling. The school makes sure they know it’s not their fault.

    Parents can’t leave it all up to the schools. We need to make sure our children are treating others respectfully. It starts at home. Adding a strong school helps, but the bullies learn from family and close friends. If your child is hanging out with the wrong kids, be proactive. End th ose friendships if you have to. Let your children know, YOU have a ZERO TOLERANCE for bullying. Let there ne consequences for their actions. But most off all, SHOW THEM A GOOD EXAMPLE.

    As Jesse Jackson said “Never look down on someone, unless you are helping them up.”

    We need to educate our children NOW.

    Child Advocate

    April 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    • I LOVE that you mentioned that parents need to take action as well. Education starts at home. We all need to be sure that we are educating our children that its not OK to bully or pick on people for any reason. We also need to educate them on what to do if they witness someone who is being bullied. It is more often then not that schools and teachers don’t even know that things like this are going on. And may times the kids that are being bullied are scared to go to someone for fear that the bullying will get worse.
      Like I said education starts at home. We all need to do our part by education as well as being mindful of our own words and actions.


      April 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      • Macky, you are right on target, we need to guide our children what to do if they witness bullying. If one person stood up for the victim, they would know they’re not alone.

        Child Advocate

        April 17, 2012 at 5:39 pm

  2. I do agree that this a very sad case, but in the paragraph above when you say “politicians, school administrators, and religious leaders” I think you forgot some very important people on this list : PARENTS! They are just as much to blame as the school, church, politicians. As a school teacher I take a great offense to everything being our fault – well, morals should be taught at HOME – not school!

    C Post

    April 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm

  3. Being from that part of Iowa, I understand what happened. That part of Iowa is so…backward and old fashioned that any change is so hard for the. It’s not right (I’m not defending what happened), but it doesn’t surprise me. I remember in high school (in the 90s), we had a black kid move into the district. In six months, he was gone because he was teased and bullied for being black. In this day and age, being gay in that part of Iowa would be a daily struggle. I hope that Ken is now at peace and that the ones who bullied him feel even the slightest bit of remorse over their actions. This had GOT to stop.


    April 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    • I have spent my entire life in NW Iowa…please don’t generalize…we are not “backward”…OK, may be old fashioned but old fashioned isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it depends on the topic. I am white and straight and was bullied as well in jr. high (in the 80’s) although not to this extent. Bullying happens all across the country and anyone can find themselves being a target for bullying. I have always tried to teach my kids to be kind and tolerant of others so please do not bully those of us who live in this area who are trying to do the right thing. The entire country needs to find better ways to prevent this from happening to anyone else.


      April 17, 2012 at 12:20 am

      • You’re right not to generalize. I’m from Cherokee (South of Primgahr), and trust me when I say “backward” and “old fashioned” hold true. I’d like to say that NW Iowa is getting more progressive, but I don’t see it. Then again, I moved away, so maybe I’m just not seeing the progress. I’m glad that there are people up there teaching their kids to be good to others and accept differences.


        April 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm

  4. I deal with bullying of my son on a daily basis. I have been in constint contact with the school administration and nothing ever changes. They call him names, push him around, chase him home from school, take his things. One student in particular that has accused my 10 year old son of forcing himself on her calling his sister a whore calling me his mother a whore and then they wonder why my son is acting out and using bad language. I have never said or implicated that my son is perfect. But for a school to say that if it isn’t the same person or people doing it than it isn’t bullying is by far wrong. The other problem I have is that this little girl is allowed to be in the same classroom with my son when there are 5 fourth grade classrooms and that the administration tells me that this girl has problems and family problems as if that makes it ok. But when my son gets mad because kids are bullying him they hear the bad words come out of his mouth and reprimand him but they never see what the other children are doing to him. All this because my son is very intelligent and is doing 6th grade work in the 4th grade…This is a MAJOR problem and should not be tolerated!!!!

    melisa hanson

    April 16, 2012 at 9:06 pm

  5. This is a very sad situation, I believe there should he a zero tolerance policy on bullying as well but to think that will ever lead to zero bullying is an expectation not based in reality. Children are cruel, they always have and always will tease I think those who should share in some of the blame are those who encourage teens to come out of the closet at that age knowing full well the terrible treatment it will open them up to but they do it for reasons more political in nature to advance their own agenda not really taking the teens well being into account, they have blood on their hands and need to stop what they are doing.

    Harley VanZandt

    April 16, 2012 at 10:26 pm

  6. Having graduated High School in that area only two years ago, I understand the old-fashioned ways and definitely can relate to the bullying. I did not go to the same school as Kenneth, so I can not speak on terms of the way it was there. I’m now disconnected from the area other than talk with family, and I started following this story last night. I want it to be known that I in no way support bullying, and I feel terrible for those affected in this situation. With that being said I think it is an absolute travesty the way some parents are handling this issue. The blatant name calling, and aimless finger pointing to the “bullies” at the school are immature and are accomplishing nothing. Those “cold-hearted” bullies are kids, and don’t understand what harm they are doing. Blogs like this are serving as a platform for any uneducated parent to give their “expert opinion” on bullying.

    The blame should not rest at all on the bullies in this school. They have grown up in an environment that teaches kids that being “gay” is against the bible. In such a conservative area where this idea is accepted by the vast majority of the residents, how can you blame these kids for pointing out a kid who is different. It is absolutely absurd that you people don’t realize that this isn’t an issue for “politicians and school administrators” to solve. This can only be solved in each individual household and how each parent teaches their child. This cultural aspect is not going to be changed by blaming others, but only with patience and time.

    John Doe

    April 16, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    • John Doe,

      Thank you for this insightful comment, and I do agree with you on some of your points. I don’t know how long you’ve been reading my blog. If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll know that I’ve been saying for quite some time that the change that’s needed absolutely must start in the home. I’m very well aware of that. That being said, having politicians not only vehemently denounce a segment of our society, but attempt to pass legislature to essentially allow others to bully them as long as it is supported by their “…religious, political, or philosophical beliefs”. School administrators get called to the carpet because far too many of them turn a blind eye to a situation that is claiming lives at an alarming rate. Yes, it starts in the home. I’ve been saying that for years upon years. However, the problem does go beyond that, and to ignore that fact would be equally absurd. The fact of the matter is that there is no easy answer or solution to this. It WILL have to start in the homes. Fact. It WILL take school administrators being more proactive and implementing a ZERO TOLERANCE policy…and, sticking to it. Fact. And, it WILL take politicians not being so divisive in their rhetoric and in their attempts to pass biased legislation that basically targets a segment of our society. Fact.


      April 17, 2012 at 2:16 am

  7. Our schools need to wake up to this. This is happening way too much this should of never happened to this young man. Our schools to wake up and pay attention and listen what’s going around them. When my son was in high school he was being bullied by a teachers son he stuck up for himself because teachers wouldn’t listen to him he ended getting in trouble by hitting the bully the bully never got in trouble. The school needs to wake up and pay more attention to the students then the budgets. My prayers and thoughts go to the family

    tom lane

    April 17, 2012 at 1:48 am

  8. Are thereat going to be any charges filed against the bullies?


    April 17, 2012 at 2:05 am

  9. I also grew up in a small town in nw Iowa. As a young girl i endured alot of bullying including some from my so called “best friend”. It made me a bitter person and led to an awful marriage of abuse. Ileft my husband and embarked on the same journey with both my boys, My oldest son was stabbed with a fork in the school cafateria, for which the other child was suspended for 5 days. My youngest son was constantly picked on because he was chubby (which, thank God he out grew). They were picked on because of their last name and who their dad was. They both started failing badly, even though they were both smart by all accounts from their teachers. Their teachers said they were lazy but i believe alot of it had to do with not wanting to be there because of the bullying. I do not blame the teachers because they are limited on what they can do but we really need to change things in the laws. Kids should not be worrying about getting bullied and be able to live as kids who want to succeed. Another point to make is, much of the bullying done isn’t even in the school, it is in the social circles after school where the bullies know they can get away with it more. I am lucky cause I still have both my boys and they are now adults, but my heart hurts for any parent who loses a child in such a cruel and heartless way! May God be with these families and help them to heal!!! And to the bullies, just wait till you are out of school and you don’t have your buddies to back you up, good luck with that!


    April 17, 2012 at 2:49 am

    • Amen Cindy, Amen!!

      Tammy Cook

      April 17, 2012 at 3:13 am

  10. In some schools its not the children who bully, but the principles, teachers etc… Teacher who throw tables, chairs, books at our children. It seems apparent many think only children bully….!
    Why is that?

    Jane Doe

    April 17, 2012 at 3:08 am

  11. I just finished watching the video of Kenneth. I did not cry, but I will tell you this. I am so upset!! It makes me sick to think this bright, handsome, loving, caring person is gone because of the ignorance of others. Let me tell you something, This world has so many problems the way it is. People create more by doing stupid things like this to another human being? This is totally unacceptable….UNACCEPTABLE. I’m sure he had alot to offer to the world, and thanks to a few ignorant people, he has taken his life. What is wrong with you people? I was bullied in high school also, because I was fat. Big deal, I was fat, who cares?? When it comes right down to it, does it matter if I’m fat to anyone else? I have grown over the years to realize that I am who I am, fat or thin, and if someone doesn’t like me, then too bad, don’t talk to me. I won’t lose any sleep over it.I could care less if you don’t like me. I have learned over the years that if people want to be that ignorant, let them, it just shows how lame they really are. As for the ones who did the bullying, do you feel special now?? If you have any human decency you should have some remorse for what you have done. What does it matter that Kenneth was gay, straight, fat, thin, black or white? He was not hurting any of you, and just wanted to live his life, but now he won’t ever get to. Think of his poor family dealing with all of this…. over something so stupid, yes STUPID. I hope you grow up someday and realize life isn’t about being cool, it’s about treating others with respect and love. Wake up, what if someday you have children, and they tell you they are gay?? What then?? Think before you speak!!
    Rest in peace Kenneth, I did not know you, but I am very sad. I know your up in heaven where God does not judge. Now you can be who you are. Much love, prayers and hugs to your family.

    Tammy Cook

    April 17, 2012 at 3:11 am

  12. Lets hope those bullies can be held accountable for their actions. Allowing bullies off scotch-free is not good enough, because our children need to know they can express themselves without harm. Doing nothing, Bullying will only continue..

    Jane Doe

    April 17, 2012 at 3:14 am

  13. being merely a short twenty minute drive from where KJ lived, i see the bullying as well. i graduated from a small high school, where my best friend was often bullied for being gay, i also know kenneth was not the first homosexual young boy to be bullied for being himself in the south o brien school district, it makes me sick to think that rather than accept people for whom they are, society chooses to make them miserable. i hope this makes people realize that every word they say affects somebody. its not fair to have to lose someone you love because of someone elses ignorance.


    April 17, 2012 at 6:04 am

  14. I grew up in this community, graduating almost 40 years ago and it was going on at that time. It’s not just about being gay or any other thing. Those that do the bullying will find anything they can to attack whoever they want. My family moved away, thinking that maybe things would be different somewhere else, but it didn’t change. We decided to move back, but about 20 miles away. But it is not just kids that are bullying other kids, the teachers are just as bad, as we found out with our son. We gave him permission to quit school two weeks before the end of his junior year because of it. The stress on him was causing him to have blackout spells, where he would be walking along and all of a sudden pass out. And it doesn’t all happen in school. I feel that the bullying starts in the home, with one or both parents doing the bullying to the child. The work place is another bad place for bullying. You either put up with it or find another job, because management won’t do anything about it. I also am a Christian and know what the Bible says about gay activity, but the Bible also tells me in Matthew 7: 1&2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” God makes the final decisions in everything. We should all be thankful that He gave us life. Kenneth, they can no longer hurt you, so rest in peace!

    God's Child

    April 17, 2012 at 8:36 am

  15. Dear family, May the peace that passes all human understaning be with you. God may not have called Kenneth home, but He did welcome him with open arms. This situation is not OK. It is a call to action of all communities to band together against the bullies.
    When will everyone be able to see that we are made how we are made and it is good? The epidemic of bullying needs to stop. Praying the time is here to help end the cycle.
    I will pass your storie to some who may be able to use it to help change the thinking of others.
    My heart breaks for you.
    Amy Maeder
    Atlantic, Iowa

    Amy Maeder

    April 17, 2012 at 10:31 am

  16. You know something about these things? The bullys usually hang in packs, like wolves preying on the innocent. Also, if you stand up to them singlely, they will most likely back down like the cowards they really are. It seriously makes me want to become a motivational speaker. I was bullied in school because of my size, and now stand up for myself. You young people need to stick up with one another to stop this stupidity. And like I said before to the kids that bully……what would happen if one day your child came up to you and told you they were gay? Would you want them to go through what this poor boy did? STOP THE BULLYING!! I for one will go to the ends of the earth to help with this cause. If anyone has any ideas as to how I can help, please let me know. Rest in Peace Kenneth, may the Lord wrap you in his arms and keep you as one of his Angels in Heaven. My sincere condolences to his family on your loss, I love you even though I don’t know you.

    Tammy Cook

    April 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm

  17. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot, and can’t seem to get it out of my head. I live close to where Kenneth is from, but never had the chance to know him. This story breaks my heart for many different reasons. First of all, bullying is extremely serious. I’ve been there. Definitely not to this extent, but I can still remember things people said to me, it leaves a lasting impression. I don’t neccesarily think the bullying came from kids being “homophobic” as much as kids looking for any opportunity to prey on somebody. Kids look for any and every opportunity to put others down to boost up their own confidence. They learn this terrible trait from lots of different sources, but it definitely starts at home. Even if someone doesn’t agree with another persons actions, you still have to love them the same. And if the bullies are so-called “Christians” they should be well aware of that fact. God calls us to love everyone, treat everyone the same, and to let him do the judging. One part of this story that bothers me is that many people say “Well, its Northwest Iowa and they are just crazy Bible beaters.” Northwest Iowa is a great place to live, but every place has its flaws. We pride ourselves as a nice, safe, close-knit community. And yes, their are people that are judgmental here, but those kind of people are all over the place. Hopefully everyone that hears this tragic story uses it to make themselves better, and to hold people accountable for how they treat others. As hard as it sounds, hopefully it brings the community closer together. If you see someone that seems like they could use a friend, or someone to talk to, do it. You have nothing to lose. Everyone is secretly fighting a battle, why not help them through it? Most importantly, we need to pray for everyone involved. First and foremost, Kenneths family. I can’t imagine what they are going through. Second, for the teachers and anyone who had a personal connection to Kenneth. I’m sure everyone keeps thinking what they could have done differently. Lastly, and probably the most difficult, we NEED to pray for the kids that bullied this young man. You might have hatred toward these kids, but remember that they are KIDS. We all make mistakes. And yes, this was a terrible mistake, but I honestly hope that this extremely hard lesson changes their lives for the better. Hopefully, they never put someone down again, and realize what they did was awful. But don’t forget that God will forgive anyone who is truly sorry for their sins. Remember, bullying started this situation, and it’s no way to end it. Don’t look down on someone unless you’re helping them up! May God be with anyone who is mourning the death of Kenneth Weishuhn!


    April 18, 2012 at 1:45 am

  18. For those truly wishing to take action against bullying here is the link to a website by an organization called Not In Our School/ Not In Our Town that Iowa Public Television aired last month. The website has video’s for schools and information about the program. I was impressed with the effects of the program in the featured schools and communities on IPTV program. It offers a real solution to the problem and gives all parents and all children the power to stop the bullying through education and accepting accountability through all aspects of the community at ALL levels. Here is the link

    Sandy RN

    April 18, 2012 at 5:32 pm

  19. As the mother of a nearly 13 year old son, it really just hurts my heart that this sweet young man was bullied to the point of devastation and suicide. I only hope that some positive change comes from his untimely death.


    April 14, 2013 at 9:24 pm

  20. This video is for this young man that i dont know ,yet my heart goes out to him and rest in peace kenneth.To his family my pryers are with you.


    April 15, 2013 at 2:27 am

  21. I am a mother of a 9 year old boy who very matter of factly announced to me and his older sister he is gay. I lov ethat he felt safe enough to say it and be so comfortable with who he is that when we responded! “That’ s ok,” he simply replied, “I know.” Though I know he is well liked at school, believes in God, and knows his family loves him no matter what, I am terrified what his future holds. This story is so sad and I can’tvstop crying.


    April 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm

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