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

Trae Schumaker, 13, Death by Suicide

with 12 comments

At approximately the same time 13-year-old Cade Poulos ended his life on Wednesday, Trae Schumaker, also 13, ended his, as well.

I received news of this tragedy almost immediately after it happened.  Gathering fact s can prove to be painstaking.  The initial word was that he was being bullied.  And, the beat goes on.  I was given a reason for the bullying, but I can’t verify that.  Therefore, the “why” will remain a mystery to all of us who aren’t close to the case.

I just posted new information to the facebook blog page citing that suicide is now the #1 injury caused death surpassing auto accidents and homicides.  If I’ve failed at getting the severity of this situation across to you, perhaps reading this article will help.  Young people are killing themselves at an alarming pace, and the time is right here and right now to work harder to bring about change.  But, how do we get there?

“It Gets Better” isn’t working.  At least not to a degree where it’s make noticeable, concrete differences.  The young people are left with the lingering and haunting question of “when”.  When, will “it get better”?  I’ve heard that question asked often enough to know that the message, albeit very well intended, is being lost on far too many of our young people.  Look no further than Jamey Rodemeyer and EricJames Borges, both of whom had even made videos for the “It Gets Better” project before succumbing, themselves, to suicide.  The creators of the project started with only the very best of intentions.  And, to be sure, there probably are some people who credit their being here today to the “It Gets Better” project.

This blog, and its companion facebook blog page, is obviously not enough, either.  That was pointed out to me with screaming urgency earlier in the year with the suicide deaths of Kenny Wolf and Grace McComas.  Their untimely deaths caused me to step back and examine exactly why do I do this.  These two bright and intelligent young people both lived virtually “in my backyard”.  So, when they were lost to us, I had to reconcile in my own mind exactly why I was doing this.  Overwhelmed with the grieve of having these two local young people end their lives, my initial though was “how did I miss them?  They’re right here in my back yard!”

The reality, of course, is that there are people who are benefitting from this blog, as well as the “It Gets Better” project.  However, much more needs to be done, and by more people.  With suicide now officially the #1 cause of injury death, it’s painfully obvious that much, much more needs to be done.  How do we reach these young people before it’s too late.  Writing about them after they’ve already ended their lives is good for heightening awareness to the problem.  That’s after the fact.

There are some very simple, very concrete ways that we can all start making a difference, in my opinion:

  • It is imperative that these young people are encouraged to talk about their issues…and, keep talking about them until someone cares and listens.  They need to be made aware that other people have gone through what they’re going through and that it is  possible to work through whatever their problems may be.  The down side to that is far too many people, young and not so young, echo the same refrain:  “I tried talking, but nobody listened!!  I’ve personally witnessed this and can attest to its validity.
  • It makes no sense to encourage them to talk if no one is going to listen.  What that means is that every caring and concerned adult (parents, teachers, older siblings, whomever!) simply must be willing to not just HEAR what they’re trying to convey to you but LISTEN intently.  By listening intently, you’ll be able to hear exactly what it is that’s causing them dismay.  This is a crucial step.  I keep going back to the Andy Williams case from 2001.  It haunts me.  He tried his best to tell the adults in his life that he was in distress.  No one listened.  As a result, three young people lost their lives that day:  the two he killed, and Andy, himself.  At age 16, he was sentenced to 50 years.  He had spent the weekend with his best friend.  He confided in the friend’s dad that he was in distress.  The day didn’t take him seriously.  Monday morning, everything changed forever.  The value of truly listening cannot be overemphasized.
  • We, as adults, simply must educate ourselves to the complexities of bullying.  It goes well beyond just someone saying something mean or rude to another person.  I witnessed, up close and person, just this past week, just how ingrained bullying truly is and why we’re having such a hard time eradicating it.  But, that’s a different story for a different time.  Suffice it to say, as I sat in front of my computer monitor and watched what was transpiring right before my eyes, I was, at once, mortified and relieved.  Relieved because now, finally, I get it.  I understand how difficult eradicating bullying is and will continue to be until we all get a much better grasp on exactly what’s going on.
  • We simply must figure out an effective way to compel school administrators to stop turning a blind eye to bullying situations, to stop treating instances and reports of bullying as insignificant events.  That’s mandatory!  Someone on the facebook blog page reported having a teacher tell him, once, that she didn’t “…get paid enough money to deal with it”.  Really?  That teacher should’ve lost her job immediately and never been allowed to teach again.  Many schools and school districts now have stringent anti-bullying policies in place.  Stringent anti-bullying policies are 100% useless unless they are properly enforced.

These things are not going to sudden put an end to the bullying/teen suicide cycle that we’re in.  However, I feel like this represents a good starting point.  Suicide is preventable.  We need to do more.  Much more.

Sadly, all of our efforts won’t bring Trae Schumaker back to his loving and grieving family and friends.  We can make a difference and prevent the next one from happening, though.  To do that, however, we need to stop shaking our collective heads, stop talking about how (insert your own adjective) it is, and start taking much more definite and direct action.  I’m not comfortable with knowing that suicide is now the #1 cause of injury deaths, and you shouldn’t be, either.

Rest in peace, young Trae Schumaker.  I hope you’re at peace, now.  To his family and friends, I send my deepest, most heartfelt condolences.


Suicide Prevention

The Trevor Project

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Enough is Enough: the blog page

12 Responses

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  1. So so sad 😦 how about starting some kind of “Bully Buddy” scheme? People whom are willing to LISTEN to those who are in distress, offer ONE ON ONE advise and support when its needed give you their name and contact info and we are paired with someone suffering from Bullying, we re like a Pen Pal Bully Buddy kind of deal?
    That was those suffering will always have some, always have some that’s listen and help. I’m be more than happy to be a Bully Buddy x

    Emily Davis

    September 30, 2012 at 9:15 am

  2. Thank you for speaking up, for wanting to make a difference, for trying to help those who can’t see a way out, for wanting to make the world a safer place. Thank you.

    Michael Barnett

    September 30, 2012 at 11:02 am

  3. Hi this is a very sad story. I understand how important it is. Currently I am helping a friend with a FB page to try and tackle situations like this and other similar things related to teenage bullying, confidence and We are trying to offer our personal experiences as advice and collectively give a hand to those who need it. I am trying to write an article on a particular event in my life, although it is hard for me to do so. It is not so much about bullying but about being accepted. Having a life changing event and so on. I like your bully buddy idea Emily.
    Hopefully with our page and advice we are giving we can start to change the future for youngsters and adults alike. I understand this article is about Teens, but we also have to consider that adults also have situations that they feel they will never handle and look for the esiest ways out this could be to do with being bullied at work or other similar situations.
    I hope we can support those in need and will try our best to do so. x

    Norman Lyddiatt

    September 30, 2012 at 11:53 am

  4. My stomach turned over when I read that face post!! I was suicidal, for much of my life with most of the attempts taking place during adolescence. My own lack of knowledge saved me because I was deadly serious. No one listened, when I tried to get help, either! This was in the 60’s and I would hope that it has gotten better. I was one of those kids who tried to tell a teacher, in writing, and got it back corrected for grammar and spelling!! My problem was not being gay, although I did have gender confusion. Mine was being Aspergers, , being too ‘different”, moving constantly (Navy) and the worse, being severely, chronically abused. It took a very long time and seemed as if all the humans, who were supposed to help were trying to undo my efforts. I became a counselor, for mentally ill ( those degrees were fought for!) and now have 4 extraordinary adult children. who became socially active scholars. My children inherited the depression and two are Aspergers but I got them help!!! I don’t work, now, ( chronic health problems from chronic stress!) but people have a tendency to drift my way, briefly, when they need help. I will ask, directly, if they are depressed and if they want to die. Then, we talk. As an asppie, it is difficult, to maintain relationships but I am more than willing to help.

    leslie r. crockett

    September 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm

  5. Dear Ron,

    My deepest condolences to these young people whose lives would have certainly be filled with so much promise, but now gone forever. My heart is bleeding at the knowledge that there are still so many young people are still taking their own lives in your country. These young people are our future, and it seems that there are still so many school establishments that are still in denial mode about the severity and existence of bullying and the trauma they could cause to young developing mind.

    Here where I am in Malaysia, I know that suicide among young people is all too real as well, and yet, little is being done to acknowledge that young people can harbour thoughts of taking their own lives. It is even worst when our law refuses to even recognise suicide, naming such deaths as either “accidental death” or “sudden death”. Only a few organisations are working hard to provide these young people a lifeline, but even that is not enough, like you mentioned.

    There are just no words that could adequately describe how much it hurts to read about the loss of a young life through suicide, and this is because it could have been prevented! It is too late to ask why they took their lives, what we must do now, whether it is in the USA or here in Malaysia, is to tell our kids, our young people, that they don’t have to kill themselves to get out of a tough situation. There are always avenues for them to reach out, they need to be made aware of these alternative options, and for people who care about them, who value their lives and who can give them hope and strength to survive another day, we must make ourselves known to them so that these kids can reach out to us before it is too late!

    Ron, you need to shout about your blog and get your efforts and those of others to educate young people on suicide prevention. You need to be visible to these young people. And young people need to know about places and people whom they can go too for help, assistance, refuge and counselling. The four points you have outlined need to told and spread to as many people as possible.

    The deaths had to stop. How many more before we really say with all sincerity and frustration – It truly is ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Keep up this noble work and effort you are doing, Ron, don’t give up! And thank you, truly thank you, for doing what you are doing for the sake of our young generation!

    Timothy Philipp Gan

    September 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm

  6. I am once again stunned by the news of more young people who are finding that their only way is to commit suicide. This needs to stop. I agree that for some the “It Gets Better” offers hope but I think we need to start going making it get better NOW. We need to start to challenge those structure and persons for whom destroying the self-esteem of youth seems to be a past time, including people of faith, religion needs to stop being used as a weapon. I for one have been challenging my church to take a public stand against bullying NOW, to become public about being a safe place for LGBT person and youth. Those of us who are supporting these youth need to be just as public as those who are against, so that no youth ever feels as if there are alone in the world.

    Patrick Woodbeck

    September 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm

  7. BULLYING NEEDS TO BE STOPPED, I THINK THAT BULLYING SOMEONE TO THE POINT OF THEM WANTING TO END THEIR LIVES IS JUST ANOTHER ACCEPTABLE CASE OR MURDER. People may not agree with me but I THINK THAT THE ONLY WAY WE WILL STOP BULLYING AND SUICIDE BECAUSE OF BULLYING DEAD IN IT’S TRACKS IS BY TREATING THE PEOPLE WHO DO THE BULLYING LIKE CRIMINALS OR MURDERERS, THEY NEED TO DO TIME, MAYBE THEN BULLYING WILL BE STOP. It’s sad that it even seems to me that bullying is the #1 cause of death that has the effect of suicide on youth today. If bullies aren’t stopped dead in their tracks, and the parents of the student who is doing the bullying isn’t held accountable and responsible for their childs actions, and the adults that victims of bullying confide in aren’t doing anything, or taking it seriousely they are also responsible for the suicides, and if the people who bully don’t get consequences other than just being yelled at or suspended, they are going to develop into adults who think it’s okay and may even become True Criminals, and commit more serious crimes or acts of murder. IT NEEDS TO BE STOPPED AND STOPPED NOW. HOW MANY MORE YOUNG LIVES OR LIVES IN GENERAL DO WE HAVE TO LOSE FOR PEOPLE TO DO ANYTHING AND TAKE IT SERIOUSLY?


    September 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    • He was my best friend. i miss him so much.


      December 15, 2012 at 6:37 am

  8. […] week, two 13-year olds , Trae Schumaker and Cade Poulos, ended their lives.  Both suicides were the response to […]

  9. […] over 215,000 times last week, and 2.7 million times since July. This week two 13-year-olds , Trae Schumaker and Cade Poulos, ended their lives. Both suicides were the response to bullying. In Cade’s […]

  10. Its been over a year now and I still think of him every day. Love and miss you Trae. Forever in our hearts


    October 15, 2013 at 9:18 pm

  11. its been over 2 years now and I still think about him everyday! no day goes by he isn’t there I miss you! I love you!

    Emma Jordan

    October 6, 2014 at 8:26 pm

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