Dillion Burns, 18, Death by Suicide
The New Year holiday wasn’t happy for everyone. On New Year’s Eve, 18 year old Dillion Burns ended his life after, allegedly, being bullied because of his sexuality. At this point, Pennsylvania appears to be running away with the dubious distinction of being the teen suicide capital of the 2012-2013 school year. It’s a distinction no one should be comfortable with having.
Apparently, one of the contributing factors in Dillion’s suicide was a facebook page designated to bullying people in the Erie area of Pennsylvania: “Erie on Blast”. From the information I was able to gather, there was at least one other teen suicide attributed to the activities on that page with at least one other attempted suicide. The page has since been removed.
Of course, as has become the norm, the local law enforcement are stating that there’s “no evidence” of “criminal activity”, meaning there was no bullying involved. And, granted, it would be highly unlikely that whatever occurred on “Erie on Blast” was the sole reason for Dillion’s fateful decision. That said, this event once again reveals a total failure in our society to deal with the bullying, cyberbullying, and related teen suicides.
As adults, we’re failing miserably to get a handle on what’s going on, both in this country and around the world, insofar as these incidences are concerned. It’s almost as if it’s not being taken seriously at all. Or, at the very least, it isn’t being given the gravity it so obviously needs. If that were not the case, if bullying, cyberbullying, and teen suicides were being treated as the epidemic they represent, we’d be seeing dramatic declines in all three activities. That’s not the case.
Young people are failing to get the message that their actions are costing lives. Or, they just don’t care. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. In either case, this fails back on the adults. Teen suicide has been a fairly prominent topic for the past few years. Bullying and cyberbullying have both become a national dinner table topics. There is zero probability that these young people don’t know that their words and actions are causing their peers to end their lives. Therefore, the only plausible answer has to be that they flat-out just don’t care. And, that’s a problem of catastrophic proportions.
One necessary solution to this problem is to rid ourselves, as a society, of the cloak of secrecy that surrounds these events. Keeping these teen suicides and bully-related teen suicides secret is not helping anything. Granted, it’s the families right to privacy, and grieving the sudden and incredibly traumatic loss of a young loved one to suicide can be devastating. I get it. At the same time, the more these events are kept in the shadows, the more pervasive the problem becomes. As long as no one knows the true impact this is having, the perception will remain that “it’s really not as bad as some people are making it sound”. In fact, it’s that bad, and even worse. I’ve stopped counting for this school year, but I know that I have written about more than 40 teen suicides since the beginning of the school year. FORTY!!!! And, rest assured, there has been many more than the 40 or so that I know about. Therein lies the problem…or, at least part of the problem. Unless we really know the full impact, this crisis will continue to treated as a non-issue.According to unidentified sources, Dillion had been bullied because of his bisexuality. Here’s a cold, hard fact: It’s pure folly for us to even begin to entertain the possibility of young people being more tolerant and accepting of ALL people, regardless of their race or sexual orientation as long as they continue to see adults in their lives be intolerant and bigoted. Simple fact. And, the reality is that they need look no further than their televisions, their computers, or (in some cases) their own dinner table. The negative role models are everywhere. They young people are being taught that their actions are normal, acceptable, and, in some cases, even expected.
Dillion Thomas Burns didn’t even get a chance to ring in the new year. To think that he ended his life at least in part because of someone else’s callousness, coldness, and general disrespect for human life is, to me, beyond reprehension. This isn’t going to end on its own, and talking about “it must end” is proving to be futile. Like the young man who created the facebook page, Get Rid of Erie on Blast, in response to Dillion’s tragic suicide, we need more and more people to step up and get involved. It’s the only way we’re going to make a difference.
Rest in peace, Dillion.
********************SUICIDE IS NOT THE ANSWER!!! TALK TO SOMEONE!!!!********************
Written by Ron Kemp
January 10, 2013 at 7:02 pm
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