Trae Schumaker, 13, Death by Suicide
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 IS PREVENTABLE!!! IF YOU, OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW, IS IN CRISIS, SEEK HELP!!!****
Written by Ron Kemp
September 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm
Tagged with andy williams santee high school, Bullying, columbine park suicide, how did trae schumaker kill himself, lgbt teen suicide, Suicide, suicide prevention, trae schumaker, trae schumaker suicide
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