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Jerad Meriweather, 13: Parents Blame Bullying for Suicide

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” Vibrant”, “prolific writer”, “brilliant mind”.  These are just some of the accolades bestowed upon 13-year-old Jerad Meriweather, who committed suicide Friday, January 18th.jerad meriweatherThe dual dilemma of bullying and bully-related suicides amongst teens is not going away.  Far from it.  We’re actually seeing an acceleration of incidences where bullying has been named as the root cause, or at the very least a contributor, to another teen ending his or her young life.  It’s a runaway train of a broken record.  Worse, the “officials” responses and handling of these cases are both irresponsible and mind-numbingly repetitive.

“There is no record of ______ ever being bullied”.

“Our records show that bullying was not involved in this case.”

Clearly, I could go on and on with the typical responses we hear time and time again.  Meanwhile, we’re seeing case after case of another teen’s life cut short, by their own hand, in which families and friends name bullying as the culprit.  What concerns me is that we are continuing to allow them to get away with being irresponsible in the handling of these cases.jerad meriweather2

Jerad had a circle of close friends whom he cared about deeply and was known to take on their pain and troubles as if they were his own.

Here’s what we know about bullying cases:  there’s rarely a “record on file” of it because these young people are afraid and/or reluctant to come forward with it.  They’re told over and over to “talk to someone”, to “tell a trusted adult”, “talk to your counselor”, all good things, to be sure.  However, what experience teaches them is that even if they do report it, typically one of these three things will happen:

  1. Reporting it will only lead to more bullying, of at a heightened level of intensity;
  2. THEY get labeled the problem, the troublemaker, as if it’s their fault that someone else  lacks so badly in self-control and self-esteem that they have to find others to pick on…typically someone they perceive to be weaker than themselves;
  3. Nothing.  Nothing at all.  I hear over and over and over ad nauseam about cases where the bullied reported it to “the responsible adult” only to have nothing done about it at all.  I guess the solace we could find here is that at least in the event the worst were to happen, there actually would be something “on record”.  

vigil for jeradFar too often, families and friends are having to say goodbye to their young loved one because…well…we, as a society, have yet to figure out how to get a firm grip on the bullying and bully-related suicides.  We’re failing miserably at coming up with a solid plan-of-action that will reduce the roar of bullying and bully-related suicides to a dull murmur.  The cost of that failure is a seemingly endless stream of teen suicides.  Teens, like Jerad Meriweather, who, by all accounts, was a shining star in the making.  At the same time, we must also work harder to understand another common component in teen, or any, suicide:  depression.  Did Jerad deal with depression and bullying.  Well, that question will remain unanswered for a lifetime.  However, according to Gerald, Jerad’s father, his son…

…devoured books and wrote essays that were better than work by adult authors. One essay about depression won Jerad an award at school in October.

 Of course, writing an awarding winning essay about it doesn’t mean that he was dealing with it, himself.  He could’ve very well been looking at it through the eyes of one of his close friends:

Jerad had a circle of close friends whom he cared about deeply and was known to take on their pain and troubles as if they were his own.

“Passionate” is how Gerald Meriweather described his son.  From everything I’ve read about him, “incredible” would have to be added to the many accolades.  It’s maddening that we, as adults, cannot figure a way to prevent this from continuing to happen.  It’s shattering, to me, to continue to see these young faces appear with the word “suicide” attached.  But, it’s heart-wrenching to see that we, as a society and as adults!, we’re still failing so miserably at preventing this to happen.  They deserve so much more.  They deserve a lifetime.

Rest in peace, Jerad.

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Dillion Burns, 18, Death by Suicide

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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. dillion burns2At 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.dillion burnsAccording 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.

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Jessica Laney, 16: Ask.fm Named in Yet Another Teen Suicide

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Sunday night, December 9th, 16-year-old Jessica Laney ended her young life.  Friends say cyberbullying endured on the infamous website Ask.fm was at the root of the suicide.  That’s strike three!Jessica LaneyI don’t know which is more maddening:  the fact that now three teenagers that we know about have ended their lives after enduring relentless cyberbullying on the same website, or that the officials in this case are reciting the same road-weary lines that we hear time after time.

“Our thoughts and prayers go to the Jessica Marie Laney’s family as they deal with their loss.  (Pasco County Sheriff’s Office) is not aware of any formal complaint to the Pasco School District or PSO about her being bullied,” said Doug Tobin, Public Information Officer for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

Ask.fm is under fire, and rightfully so.  In just the past three months, three teenaged girls have ended their lives because of reportedly being severely cyberbullied on the website…a website where one can post and comment anonymously, leaving them free to menace, harass, and abuse without fear of retribution.  Obviously, there’s a problem afoot that needs to be addressed.  The question is, however, “how do we go about addressing it in a way that will be effective?  Do we call for the website to simply be shut down?  There’s a petition circulating right now that calls for exactly that.  If you believe that’s the answer, here’s the link for you to go and sign the petition.  Will shutting down the beleaguered website solve the problem?  Or, will the guilty parties simply find other websites to go to with their menacing activities?  In all likelihood, the latter would come into play.  And, that presents a bigger, even more realistic problem that we’re seemingly overlooking:  these young people who are continuing to do this have absolutely no regard for human life and need to be held accountable.  But, then, there’s the issue of the parents of those who do the bullying.

Listen, here’s breaking news for all who don’t already know it:  there is a two-headed epidemic in our society today that’s decimating today’s young generation:  bullying and bully-related suicides.  Apparently, that news has yet to reach a portion of our population because, with as much as bullying and bully-related teen suicide is in the news, these occurrences are not only continuing to happen, they are increasing in both numbers and intensity.  For these kids to be posting comments like “why don’t you go kill yourself?” or “nobody even likes you, anyway” or “everybody would be better off if you were dead” even though bullying, cyberbullying, and bully-related teen suicide are all in the news regularly, one can only draw one conclusion:  they don’t give a damn about human life.  And, that level of indifference can only point back to the homes.

Will holding these troubled young people legally responsible for cases of bullying and bully-related suicide make a difference?  We can look at New Jersey for answers.  With one of the nation’s toughest anti-bullying laws on the books, the teens responsible in the Lennon Baldwin bully-related suicide were charged and jailed for the bullying that led up to the suicide.  In fact, an attack on Lennon by one of the three young men was caught on video.  The two juveniles involved were sentenced to two years probation, which sounds like a wrist slap, to be sure, but it keeps them on a short leash for the next two years.  The third person, an adult at the time of the assault and consequent bullying that pushed Lennon over the edge, is still awaiting his fate.  Is this what is needed to, once-and-for-all, bring this chapter to an end?  Or, is this just putting a bandage on a gaping wound?

Then, there’s the parents.  The reality is that when the shit hits the fan and someone is actually forced to answer for their actions, there’s always a parent, or parents, who quickly utters the “my-child-would-never-do-anything-to-harm-anyone” clause.  Human nature, perhaps, yet reckless and irresponsible in these cases.

What’s needed are wholesale changes in how we are going about this.  We can continue to talk about it until we’re blue in the face.  It’s not changing anything!  We can continue to shake our heads and say all of the appropriate catch-phrases that comes along with these tragedies.  Pick one.  It’s not changing anything!!  First and foremost, in every school and in every home across the country (and, around the world!), we have to have sit-down, face-to-face, honest dialogue about what’s going on and what definitive steps we can take, starting today!, to prevent it from continuing.  WHATEVER IT TAKES!!!  Secondly, as it continues to happen from this day forward, there needs to be real accountability and real consequences.  Period.  I mean, come on, is it really acceptable, at this stage of the game, to hear a young person utter the meaningless words “I (we) were just playing around.  I (we) didn’t mean for him/her to do this.”? Emphatically, the answer is no!  It is not acceptable, if only for the simple reason that we’ve seen this in the news and on social media sites long enough now to have a full understanding that this is a serious problem…an epidemic.  And, real lives are being lost.  And, finally, it’s time to hold these law enforcement agencies and school officials’ feet to the fire.  They’re getting off completely scot-free!  “Our records indicates no reports of bullying”.  Not acceptable.  Dig deeper.  Work harder.  Erase that culture you’ve helped create that allows these youngsters to feel comfortable in continuing to bully and cyberbully even as it continues to lead to teenagers ending their lives.  As long as they understand that there will be no real consequences, they have no compelling reason to change their behaviors.Jessica_Laney3_517219795For the sake of Jessica Laney, and the far-too-many who have gone before her, it’s time to quit talking about how sad, how outrageous this is and start doing some things that will bring this scourge to a screeching halt.

Rest in peace, Jessica.

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Lara Burns, 12: Cyberbullying Claims Another Victim

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I need to put this in perspective…for myself:  I host a weekly Open Mic locally.  On a couple of occasions, the 12-year-old daughter of my band’s bassist has come and performed there.  Very talented.  To look at her, my first thought was “my goodness!  Twelve years old is so young!”  And, that, it is.  That’s what makes this so heartbreaking.story images_Lara_Burns_684400751Over the weekend, 12-year-old Lara Burns-Gibbs, from Kilcock in Co. Kildare, in Ireland, ended her life.  It is believed that she had endured cyberbullying.

I’m just going to say right here that if I had a young teenager, male or female, in today’s world, they would have one of two options:

  1. Only use the Internet on a computer that is in an open, common room where anyone, at any given time, could be able to monitor what’s going on.  And, the computer itself would have every parental control available to me in use;  or,
  2. They simply wouldn’t be allowed to use the Internet for anything other than school work.  Cell phones?  No texting capabilities.

Too much is at stake in today’s world for me to handle it any other way.  I just heard from a mother, just today, of a beautiful young girl who committed suicide earlier this year after enduring cyberbullying, and she told of how tough of a time she was having right now.  It’s her first holiday season without her beautiful young daughter since she arrived in this world 14 years ago.  My heart broke when I read that, but I can certainly understand.  No parent should be going through what she, and (unfortunately) many other parents of teen suicide victims are going through.  Yet, here I am once again, writing about yet another young person who ended their life after being bullied.  Where does it end?  Where do we begin?

At Lara’s funeral, Father David Halpin had this to say:

suicide is not the answer to pain and only causes greater suffering.  Those feelings do pass. We are here today because a very young girl did not know that.  She was too young to know that the pain does not last, too young to know that whatever was troubling her was not permanent.  She was too young to know that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

He added: “Perhaps by planning to die by suicide she was bringing an end to pain.  But it has had the opposite effect — it has multiplied pain, hurt and suffering and brought devastation to her family.  Suicide should never be seen as an answer because it’s not an answer.  Please, please do not ever think suicide is the answer. Seeking help is the only answer.  She was too young to understand that suicide cannot be reverse.

That sobering statement holds validity.  On the other side of the coin, even as we make every effort imaginable to protect these young people from being bullied, both online and in their daily lives, at some point we have to stop coddling the perpetrators, as well as the enablers, and start holding people accountable.  Period.  In the cases of bullying where it leads to a suicide, well, that’s no difference than getting into a physical altercation with someone, having that someone fall and violently bang their head on the concrete, and subsequently dying from that injury.  Your actions lead to that person’s death and, as such, you’re held accountable.  This is no different.  If the actions of the bully, or cyberbully, ends with the bullying victim committing suicide, that person (or, persons) is just as culpable as the person is who threw the punch that caused that person to fall, bang his/her head on the concrete, and subsequently die from the injury.  It’s really just that simple.  Someone needs to be held accountable!!!  The perpetrator(s) needs to be held accountable; the enabler(s) need to be held accountable.

Let’s get real:  there is absolutely no way that anyone with even a single working brain cell doesn’t know by now that bullying is causing enormous harm and, in many cases, death; therefore, for these people to continue with their bullying actions is for them to say that they flat-out don’t give a damn if the person they are antagonizing kills themselves.  It’s really as simple as that.  And, that is absolutely not okay.

Lara’s grieving mother delivered this message, through the parish priest, Father Liam Rigney:

 Never be ashamed to go for help.  We just do not know why, and we will never know why, Lara took her own life. We will never know what was in her poor head. What we do know is her decision has devastated so many people, especially her family. So many lives have been torn apart and devastated.

This is real.  Parents are grief-stricken.  Families are often torn apart.  Friends are shattered.  And, what’s really troubling me, personally, is that it’s showing no signs of getting any better any time soon.  We’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re to reverse this trend:

  1. It’s essential that we devise a way to protect these young people from being constantly bullied and/or cyber-bullied.  If that means severely restricting their telecommunications access, so be it.  Having them alive and pouting trumps what we’re seeing as an alternative; and,
  2. It’s time to start holding some feet to the fire.  There has to, has to, has to!!!! be some accountability.  It’s really that simple.

My heart goes out to Lara’s grief-stricken family and friends.  And, to you, Lara, may you rest in peace.

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High School Horror: THREE Students Commit Suicide in Seven Weeks

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We’ve got a problem.  And, it’s a huge problem.  It’s common knowledge to anyone with a pulse, by now, that there’s a problem with teen suicide and bullying.  So, I’m not breaking any news there.  The problem we’re facing runs deeper, if that’s possible, than the issues of bullying and teen suicide.  We’re suffering from a paralysis on how to effectively deal with both issues.  And, that’s allowing the issue to continue to spiral out-of-control.

I received notification this morning of three suicides at one school within a seven-week period, ages 14, 16, and 16:  a freshman; a sophomore; and, a junior.  And, where did I get the information from?  A United Kingdom publication!  See, in our country, those who should be sounding the alarm, standing on the tallest buildings and highest mountains screaming through the most powerful sound systems at the top of their lungs that we’ve got ourselves a major problem in this country with bullying and teen suicides are doing their best to sidestep the whole situation.  They sweep it under the proverbial carpet in hopes that it will magically disappear.  They deny the reality that this is happening in our school, in our country, with and to our younger generation.  The problem is that the problem isn’t magically going away.  It’s continuing to worsen.Jordan Halmich ended his life September 28th, one month shy of his 17th birthday.  It is alleged that he’d been bullied. Donna Cooley was found by her father on November 2nd after scrawling words on a mirror indicating that she’d been bullied.Destiny Pearson ended her life just this past Monday, November 12th.  She was a former cheerleader.  Destiny was a very well-rounded 16 year old, enjoying riding horses, karate, sewing, reading and writing.  Her friends deny any allegations that she had been bullied, citing that she was always the one who would stick up for those being bullied.

These three teens were all students at St. Clair High School in St. Clair, Missouri.  As is the norm in cases of teen suicide, the chief of police in St. Clair issued a statement that, of course, “there was no evidence of bullying.”  And, again, I’m at a loss as to where to even start trying to figure this out.  The first question that comes to mind is “what, exactly, is it that they’re looking for as “evidence” of bullying?  Are these bullied teens supposed to be documenting every instance of bullying?  Should they get the documents notarized?  Should they get videos of each instance of bullying?  Or, should they wait until the bullying becomes physical attack, then take pictures of their bruised bodies?  Preposterous questions, all.  Or…are they? Apparently, word-of-mouth accounts from the people who spent time with them day-in and day-out accounts for nil.  Zip.  Nada.  Imagine that!  You go to school with these people everyday.  You are often their close friends.  And, in some cases, you actually witness the bullying with your own eyes.  Other times, they confide in you what’s going on.  YET, when you report that they were being bullied, it falls on deaf ears.  Sound familiar?  That’s never going to solve anything.  Rather, the continuing tendency to sweep this under the carpet is a leading reason why we’re not seeing any progress being made in these instances of bullying and bully-related suicides.

Rather than acknowledge that there is a problem with bullying, this police chief instead attempted to push the focus elsewhere.

Obviously there are a lot of emotional problems with these individuals,’ St Clair police chief Bill Hammack told MailOnline. ‘But each case has specific identifiers.

‘They are dealing with a lot of emotional and mental issues and there’s not one reason connecting three different suicides of three different teenagers across three different jurisdictions.

And, he added:

One common thread that I would see that is occurring is that there is social media involved.

Of course, it’s highly possible that all of the above played a role in the suicides.  In fact, in at least one of the cases, it is documented that there were problems at home as well as at school leading up to the suicide.  And, yes indeed, there is a major issue with teens and social media today.  That goes without saying.  In fact, it is this author’s opinion that today’s young people have entirely too much free reign on the Internet and that, in itself, is only exacerbating an already troubling situation.  But, that’s neither here nor there.  That said, the issue here is neither of those things.

The issue here is bullying amongst teens, and preteens, in the schools.  The issue is bullying and the reluctance to do anything to intervene and/or prevent it.  Oh, of course, many school districts now have anti-bullying policies in place.  Some have very strict “zero tolerance” policies on record.  And, they are very effective.  On paper.  In the real world, in the schools, in the classrooms, they are grossly ineffective.  In the real world, in the schools and classrooms, they may as well be nonexistent.  That’s a problem.

Young people are told to report all bullying incidents “to a trusted adult…teacher…counselor…other school administrator.”  And, they do.  To no avail.  On the facebook blog page, I very often get reports of people who say they reported their bullying only to be blamed for bringing it on themselves!  In other cases, the reports of bullying fall on deaf ears.  Eventually, the victim(s) reach their limit and take matters into their own hand.  The result is rarely ever good.  From being suspended, or expelled!!themselves for being a bully, to going to school armed and prepared to do serious harm to the perpetrator(s), to taking their own life, the result is very rarely good.  The tragedy in that, of course, is that it never has to get to that point.  If these officials would stop sweeping this issue under the carpet and start dealing with it for what it is, an epidemic that costing lives needlessly, we wouldn’t see these things continue to occur.

And, finally, there’s nothing shameful about suicide.  The veil of secrecy must be removed.  Continuing to keep these tragic events secret does much more harm than good.  The belief that making them more public is nonsensical, at best.  The belief that it would cause more, “copycat”, suicides is equally foolish.  In my opinion.  They’re kept under wraps now and, for the most part, they’ve been kept hush-hush for as long as I can remember.  Guess what?  With the cloak of secrecy, suicide has surged to become the #1 cause of injury death, surpassing homicide and car accidents.  As long as there’s this avoidance, this reluctance to put this problem in the spotlight where it belongs, we’re going to continue to see the numbers rise.  A problem can’t be addressed and properly solved if we don’t know what the problem is.  Keeping suicides secret is allowing them to continue to climb in numbers.  That’s not acceptable.

The community of St. Clair, Missouri has a long road of healing ahead of them.  The families and friends of the three suicide victim, a lifetime of grieving.  And, unanswered questions.  My heart goes out to all of them.  In memory of the Jordan Halmich, Destiny Pearson, and Donna Cooley, and all the teen suicide victims before them, and all of the ones who continue to endure bullying, both in school and online, may we never, ever lose the fire that burns within each of us to bring this devastating epidemic to an end.

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Erin Gallagher, 13, Cyberbullying Claims Another Life

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On the news today, I heard the latest report about the high-profile case of in the fungal meningitis outbreak that’s gripping our country.  So far, 29 people have died from the outbreak, an outbreak that has affected more that 400.  A true tragedy, and they’re working feverishly and tirelessly to bring an end to the loss of lives.  What I didn’t hear on the news today, haven’t heard on the news at all, was anything – whatsoever! – about the seemingly neverending stream of teen suicides.  The silent epidemic.

Saturday night, October 27th, 13-year-old Erin Gallagher ended her short life after enduring “severe” cyberbullying on the website Ask.fm.  If you’re thinking that that name sounds familiar, it should.  I hasn’t even been a month – 18 days, to be exact – since I wrote about yet another young girl who ended her life because of cyberbullying endured on that same website.  I certainly don’t mean to diminish the impact of the deaths in the fungal meningitis outbreak that’s sweeping this country.  Death, whatever the cause, is final.  Families are left to grieve.  Families are left with unanswered questions.  Families face unfulfilled dreams.  And, from someone’s negligence, so far 29 people are dead.  Twenty-nine sets of families and friends have been forever impacted.  Absolutely, that’s newsworthy.

Here’s my point:  since the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year in August, this blog has identified 29 teen suicides!  And, those are only the ones I’ve found out about!  There.  Are.  More.  Yet, there’s no news reports for me to listen to.  There isn’t some type of “task force” in place to try to get to the bottom of the epidemic called teen suicide.  In fact, in most cases, it’s kept very hush-hush.  Twenty-nine teen suicides that I know about since the beginning of the school year.  Families are left to grieve.  Families are left with unanswered questions.  Families face unfulfilled dreams.  And, because they saw no other way, so far 29 people are dead.  Twenty-nine sets of families and friends have been forever impacted.  Absolutely, that’s newsworthy!!!! 

Once teen suicides moves from being the silent epidemic to the headline news it should be, perhaps then we can start moving towards a definitive answer to the problem.  For example, Ask.fm has now been directly linked to two teen suicides in the less than 3 weeks.  Why?  Because there’s apparently no accountability factor on the website at all.  In both cases, it was reported that it was basically a free-for-all with cyberbullying running rampant.  There’s no way to report anything; worse, people can post there anonymously.  If this kind of information was being made public, like the meningitis outbreak, AS IT SHOULD BE!!, then, as with the meningitis outbreak, we could start working towards a solution.  Sadly, that’s not the case.

The theory of reporting it could possibly lead to more, “copycat”, suicides kinda pales when you look at the reality that the suicides are still happening on almost a daily basis!!   Therefore, obviously, keeping them “silent” isn’t the answer.  How many fatalities would there have been had they not hit the “panic button” on the meningitis outbreak?  How many lives would’ve been lost had A.I.D.S. not taken center stage back in the early days of the epidemic.  Right now, your head should be reeling as you think of how high the toll could’ve been in either case.  Rightfully so.  It’s scary to think about.  Now, think for a minute how many fewer teen suicides there would be if the epidemic was properly addressed, put on center stage.  We’d be forced to look at it for what it is:  a devastating epidemic…and epidemic that is highly preventable.  Then, by looking at it realistically, and head-on, we could start working towards a badly needed solution.

Anything short of removing the misplaced veil of secrecy from the epidemic of teen suicide is doing a great disservice to the victims as well as their families and friends left to mourn them.  Keeping it secret is allowing it to continue unchecked.  Keeping it silent is allowing the bullies to get away with playing a role in another human being ending their life with no consequences.  Keeping it silent is allowing school officials and, in some cases, law officials to continue to minimize incidences of bullying and the effect they have on people.  Keeping it silent is, simply put, allowing the death toll to continue to soar.

Ask yourself how many of these young people would still be alive if only half the attention that the meningitis outbreak has received what put on the epidemic of teen suicides.  Then, ask yourself “why isn’t that happening!?”  Break the silence, confront it head-on, and we’ll start seeing the number of teen suicides reduce.

This has spun out-of-control.  Twenty-nine teen suicides, that I know of, just since the start of this school year.  And, I just learned of two more, just tonight.  For those who haven’t figured it out yet, whatever it is we’re doing to prevent this from happening isn’t working.  For the sake of 13-year-old Erin Gallagher, and those who have gone before her, we need to try something different.  And, we need to start right now!

May you rest in peace, young Erin.

******************************SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES******************************

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE

THE TREVOR PROJECT

BEFRIENDERS

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: the blog page

SUICIDE PREVENTION TIPS

 

Tallulah Wilson, 15, Yet Another Death by Suicide

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Why are there websites that encourage suicide and/or self-harm?  Freedom of speech is one thing.  As with everything else in life, that freedom comes with a responsibility.  In this case, that “responsibility” was thrown out the window.  In fact, if there’s any “responsibility” involved, someone should be responsible for encouraging 15-year-old Tallulah Wilson to commit suicide.Tallulah Wilson ended her young life, in the U.K., Sunday, October 14th.  She had dealt with anorexia.  Before her death, she had frequented websites that promoted anorexia and suicide.  It’s also apparent, from some of her online posts just three days before her death, that she was dealing with depression.

“My life is not worth living when we don’t talk. The temptation is unbearable. I just don’t want to wake up any more.”

There is also talk of Tallulah being bullied at her school.  That’s unconfirmed, at this point.  However, for someone already dealing with mental health issues – and, anorexia is a mental health issue – bullying would only exacerbate the problem.

“why the f*** should I stay if no one around me stay for me? It’s not f***ing fair. I’m done. I’m f***ing done”  It was followed by another harrowing message last week that read: ‘I don’t want to wake up anymore’.

There are so many things wrong, here.  First and foremost, once again, I’m left scratching my head, wondering how is it that these young people a crying out for help in a, world-wide public forum, yet no one is hearing them?  Every cry for help has to be taken seriously until the crisis is at least manageable.  Now, I do know that there are cases where the cries are heard and the loved ones do everything within their power to save the person in crisis, and their efforts just aren’t enough to overpower the deep depression the person is in.  That said, the question in my mind is “are those cases the exception or the rule?”  Obviously, I can’t answer that.

Tallulah’s devastated parents…said in a statement: “She was a clever, cheerful and creative girl with a talent for dance and huge potential. She will be sadly missed.”

The Head Master at Tallulah’s school said that there was “…no hint that she was unhappy”.  Yet, we now know that she had been dealing with suicidal thoughts at least as far back as July.  We’re missing crucial signs that could be saving lives.

What makes this even more troubling is the websites that Tallulah had been frequenting prior to her suicide.  How is it that there’s no accountability for having a website that promotes self-harm and suicide?  Doesn’t free speech come with responsibility?  Well, of course it does.  It’s very well-known that there are things that you can say right now that would have you immediately arrested or, at the very least, have a lot of questions to answer.  But, why?  Shouldn’t it be covered by free speech?  The answer is that with “free speech” comes responsibility.  As such, sites that promotes any type of violence, self-harm, or suicide needs to be heavily regulated.

Pro-anorexia sites can be particularly dangerous. They encourage people to believe that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice and not the serious mental illness they truly are.”

Or, perhaps we need to do a much, much better job of monitor what our young people are doing online.  Either way, this is a serious instance of the proverbial ball being dropped.  And, as a result, here we are, once again, saying goodbye to another person whose life hadn’t even begun.

So sorry no one could catch you in time, Tallulah.  You can rest, now, in peace.

******************************Suicide Prevention Resources******************************

Understanding Teenage Depression

What Teen Depression Looks Like

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Befrienders

Enough is Enough: the blog page