ronkempmusic

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

Archive for the ‘Gay Teen Suicide’ Category

Jadin Bell, 15: Bullied for Sexuality Leads to Suicide

with 6 comments


By now, Jadin Bell’s name isn’t news to anyone.  The story began to circulate even before he had taken his last breath.  Days before that, one of his relatives who is also a member of the facebook blog page had told about this tragic turn of events.  We knew this day was coming.jadin-bell-21680Jadin Bell was just 15.  He was vibrant.  He was a cheerleader.  He was bullied, “viciously”, both at school and online, because of his sexuality.  Jadin’s suicide is particularly troubling for me on a few levels:

  • It has a “hit’s home” feel because his relative had been talking to me about even before the Internet media machine picked up on the story.  His relative has been a part of the facebook blog page for quite some time.  Family;
  • It shows that for all of the historic and marvelous gains the LGBT community has made just over the past year, we still have so very far to go.
  • It, at once, saddens and angers me that, in 2013, we’re still dealing with bullying and intolerance to a point where young people feel no other way out but to end their lives.

The question is asked regularly:  “When will this end?”  It’s often accompanied by “What can I do to help make this stop?”  They are two very powerful questions, questions that must be answered before we can expect to see any real changes in this landscape of bullying, intolerance, sexual identification discrimination, and teen suicides.  Of course, there are more factors that must be dealt with, as well.  The point is clear:  more must be done!

“When will this end?”  “This” will end when more people become fed up with seeing these young people feel that the only option they have to end the pain and struggle they’re dealing with is to end their lives.  “This” will end when we, as a society, stop tip-toeing around the scoundrel named bullying and tackle it head-on.  “This” will end when can finally come together on what is the best way to address the issue of bullying and bully-related teen suicides.  We’re still miles apart on that part of the equation!

There is something inherently wrong with the way we’re teaching our young when middle-schoolers believe that bullies are the cool kids!!!  Yet, an article I read just today reports a study that says exactly that!  Surely, tackling the bullying issue in middle school will continue to be difficult, at best, as long as the students there believe that the bullies are the cool ones.

“What can I do to help…”  Get involved!!  Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.  There is a Jacob Rogers right there under your nose who just needs someone to let him know that he really does matter, that he’s not invisible, that there really is someone who will stand beside him as he tries to get his footing in life.  There is a Jadin Bell right there in your backyard that needs someone to let him know that he’s perfect just as he is, that he has a lot to offer the world, that the bullying he’s enduring right now will end.  

See, this isn’t rocket science!  What’s needed is for more people to become more deeply and directly involved in the business of saving these young people’s lives.  Period!  Is your son or daughter a bully?  How do you know?  “Because they said they’re not!”  Really?  How do you know?  You need to know in order to prevent it.  Is your child being cyberbullied?  Then, why on Earth is (s)he still online!?  Simple things.  What is needed is for more people to become more deeply and directly involved in the business of saving these young people’s lives.  Period!jadin cheerleading
Jadin was a cheerleader.  He was loved by his friends and, obviously, family.  One friend said of Jadin:

Jadin is one of the best people I have ever met. He makes everyone around him feel good all the time.

A friend of the family had this to say about him:

He was different, and they tend to pick on the different ones. If someone was down and out he would walk into a room and say a couple quick words and everybody would just forget about their problems and smile. He just had a gift.

“He just had a gift”, a gift that the world has been robbed of.  Enough really is enough.  This really does have to end.  The time really has come for us, as a society, to dig in, roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty, and bring this torturous chapter to a screeching halt.

So sorry you felt no other way out, Jadin.  Rest in peace.

******************SUICIDE IS NOT AN OPTION!!  TALK TO SOMEONE…PLEASE!!!!******************

THE TREVOR PROJECT

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE

BEFRIENDERS

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: the blog page

Advertisements

Dillion Burns, 18, Death by Suicide

with 21 comments


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.

********************SUICIDE IS NOT THE ANSWER!!!  TALK TO SOMEONE!!!!********************

BEFRIENDERS

THE TREVOR PROJECT

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: the blog page

Joshua David Pacheco, 17: Bullied Because of Being Gay

with 38 comments


Tuesday, November 27th, I received this from the creator of Wipe Out Homophobia.  It was sent to him from one of his members:

Today my friend’s good friend, a seventeen year old boy by the name of Josh, killed himself after being continuously bullied for being gay. Josh had his whole life ahead of him, but the ignorant and hateful words of others caused that to be taken away from him. How many people need to die before this world realizes that something is wrong with the way we are treating people?! The constitution states that every human being has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Josh was as human as any of the rest of us, yet he was stripped of all of those rights. This needs to change. No matter gay, straight, or anything else, we all are human, and therefore must all stand up for equal human rights. Please, think before you speak, and make an effort to stand up for those around you. Together we can put a stop to this. Rest in peace, Josh. ♥♥josh pachecoJosh was a junior at Linden High School.  His mother describes him as:

“…very sensitive, to others’ needs and feelings but also to his own,” He gave his whole self fully to any person he could.”

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough as boys from his school constantly and severely bullied Josh until he couldn’t take it anymore.  In talking to the person who originally alerted me about this tragedy, Rachelle, I was able to learn from one of his close friends, through Rachelle, some of the horrors he had to endure.

All I know is that he was bullied in our theatre class by three boys. He felt very uncomfortable. One even went as far as to tell him he spent a lot of time on his knees. He wouldn’t tell everyone who all of them were.josh pacheco2

“That, in and of itself, does constitute bullying although it doesn’t really seem as though it would be enough to push Josh, or anyone over the edge”, is what some would probably say to those charges.  And, on one level, I guess it would make sense.  However, when you add that to other direct information, coming from one of Josh’s friends, it’s a lot easier to understand why he felt he had no other choice:

[members of] the Linden football team pushed him around, [urinated] on him and taped him to his locker.

That action is reprehensible and repulsive.  More to the point, there are obviously people – or, at least one person! – who knows about this.  It is incumbent upon that person, or those people, to come forward with any and all information they have pertaining to this.  Those boys who did this need to be held accountable.  Their actions caused another human being to end his life.  It’s not enough to say that their karma will take care of it.  They need to be dealt with in the here and now.  Anything less is unacceptable.

“Josh would never give us names. He was so intimidated by these kids who picked on him,” Josh’s father, said. “If he would have given me or the school details, we would have handled it. Don’t be afraid to speak out. You need to tell people what’s going on.”

This has gone on far too long!  We’re all aware of the devastating effects bullying can have on people, especially teens!  The “STOP BULLYING!” conversation has been going on long enough, and in enough different forums, that I’m fully, 100% convinced that a.) it’s impossible for any human being with a shred of intelligence to not know what’s going on and what it’s causing; and, b.) those who continue to engage in these actions are simply, and clearly, saying that they just don’t give a rat’s ass about the potential outcome.  And, with that being the case, and seeing the death toll continue to mount, explain to me, slowly so that I can understand it, why these people are not being held accountable?

“He told me he felt like he wasn’t good enough. He said if he lost weight he would be happy,” Joshua’s mother said. “But he wasn’t. Then, he said if he came out [as a homosexual], he would be happy. Then, it was if the kids at school stopped teasing him. He came to me and said he still didn’t feel happy. I realized then it wasn’t something, being a mom, that I could fix.”

These “kids” are being allowed to engage in actions that are completely devastating lives.  Not only are their actions leading to suicides, there are countless families and friends whose lives are being decimated.  How is it fair that they are continuously given a free pass?  In this case, where there is at least one person who knows for certain who was doing this to Joshua Pacheco, it is imperative to bring that information to the light.  Knowing that someone taped another human to their locker and urinated on them is simply not something to be kept secret, especially now that we know what those actions have led to.

What we’re seeing today is a generation of young people who simply don’t care about people around them or, in some cases, human life in general.  Certainly not the entire generation, but enough to have an impact.  And, we’re seeing the drastic consequences on a near-daily basis.  One of my treasured associates had this to say, just moments ago as a comment on yet another post about yet another teen who had been bullied to the point of ending his life:

The several known kids who bullied Jamey Rodemeyer, who died 9/18/2011, were subjects of a criminal investigation. The result: five-day suspensions from school. They had hard evidence of online posts telling him to kill himself, AND, the kids were still bullying him after his death. His sister went to a school dance not too long after Jamey’s death, and when Jamey’s favorite song came on, the bullies began chanting “You’re better off dead! We’re glad you’re dead!” This whole situation has long since reached the point of being unbelievably horrible. Yet this country is like the proverbial frog in a pot of heating water–we’ve gradually gotten so used to the deadly situation that we don’t even notice death.

You know we’ve become a desensitized society when the youth of our society have no problem committing acts that they know can lead to another person’s death yet continue doing it.  Often times even after their victim has ended their life.  How is it that we’re okay with this being who we’ve become as a people?

So sorry this had to happen to you, Josh.  Rest in peace.joshua pacheco

Kyle Wells, 16, Bullied for Being Gay

with 4 comments


The bad news just keeps getting worse.  I was alerted to this tragedy on the facebook blog page just moments after publishing the blog post about the three teens from St. Clair, MO. Kyle Wells, 16, from Cody, Wyoming ended his life October 30th.  According to his grandmother, she left home to buy some Halloween candy.  When she returned, Cody was already dead.  His grandmother and his best friend, Stephen, both agree that Kyle was bullied.  He was bullied because of his small size.  He was bullied for being gay.

His grandmother says that the bullying, because of his size, started as early as kindergarten.

It started when he was in kindergarten. He was about the size of a two-year old. And the kids would carry him around and call him their baby…He hated that. He wanted to feel as big and important as they were

His angry best friend, Stephen, added that Kyle would not have committed suicide if not for the bullying:

No he would not. He would have not. That’s what caused most of his problems, was the bullying. He’s been bullied for being gay, for being short, pretty much everything he’s done in his life

And, of course, the school officials gave their standard, scripted response:

School officials say they had no reports of bullying before Kyle died

Kyle had a failed suicide attempt two years before, an attempt that led to him being hospitalized in a behavioral and treatment center in Salt Lake City.  Born with fetal alcohol syndrome, his grandmother believes that that affected the way he dealt with bullying.

I’m going to play this song again because not enough people are listening to it.  They’re hearing it, but they’re not paying attention to the message of the lyric.  The time for you, the school officials left in charge of protecting each and every student in your care for every single day of the school year, to stop running from the issue of bullying is long, long past due.  You’re seeing the bullying for yourselves, but you’re looking the other way.  You’re hearing student after bullied student tell you, plead to you!, that they need your help to keep them from the bullying they are enduring, but you’re not listening to them.  Meanwhile, young people are dying needlessly because of it!  Sweeping this issue under the carpet isn’t making it go away.  It won’t go away without your intervention.  So what if you have “…no documentation” of bullying!  You’re SEEING it with your own eyes.  I know you are.  You know you are.  So, why are you continuing to allow these children to die!?  The same can be said about the police officials who rapidly release “official reports” that their “…investigation hasn’t found bullying to be the cause…”.  You KNOW it’s happening.  You know it!!!!  So, why are you rushing to dismiss it?  It’s a huge black eye on the otherwise great work you do.  “Zero tolerance” for bullying is 100% meaningless as long as you, the school officials, and you, the law enforcement communities, are doing nothing to enforce it.  And, the death toll rises.

Kyle Wells’ grandmother says she went to the school a couple of times every year to confer with the administrators about the bullying he was enduring.

“All through school I had to go to the schools once or twice a year, discussing the bullying problems and what was being said to him, and what affects it was having on him and things, and nothing ever changed,” she says.

How many more times do we need to hear that before we understand that there’s a real and serious problem?  How many more lives need to be senselessly lost because of the inaction of the very people who are supposed to be caring for the welfare of each and every student?  These suicides are 100% preventable.  One hundred percent!  To get to that point, however, bully prevention and suicide prevention both need to be taken 100% more seriously.

That Kyle was dealing with fetal alcohol syndrome was trying enough for him.  I know this because I’ve seen it up close and personal.  That Kyle also had to deal with a lifetime of bullying because he was apparently undersized for his age and, then, because of his sexuality proved to be too much for him to handle.  Alone.  He shouldn’t have had to deal with it alone.

Rest in peace, Kyle.  You shouldn’t have had to endure what you did.  You definitely shouldn’t have had to deal with it alone.

 

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 IS PREVENTABLE!!!  IF YOU, OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW, IS IN CRISIS, SEEK HELP!!!****

Suicide Prevention

The Trevor Project

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Enough is Enough: the blog page

Teen Suicide Cluster in Pennsylvania

with 15 comments


 

In a span of one week, beginning September 18th with the suicide death of Joshuah Delos Santos, there have been 4 confirmed teen suicides in a 7 day period.  That’s 4 confirmed teen suicides within 30 miles!  Map out a 30-mile radius in your own area, and you’ll see the significance of that troubling graphic

  • September 18:  13-year-old Joshuah Delos Santos commits suicide in Nanticoke, with bullying being a contributing factor;
  • September 21:  16-year-old Matthew Montagna, pictured, ends his life in Pittston.  Classmates and friends cite bullying as a contributing factor;
  • September 24:  an unidentified 15-year-old cheerleader ends her young life in Duryea.  Classmates and friends cite bullying as a contributing factor;
  • September 25:  an unidentified 13-year-old boy ends his life in his home in Hazelton.  The Hazelton Chief of police said, in a news conference, his suicide was not “bullying-related”.  We’ve heard that before.

Seven days, four teen suicides, all within 30 miles of each other.  Is there a problem there?  The obvious answer is “yes”.  Just the Joshuah Delos Santos suicide was horrific by itself, but to add three more in the next 6 days is just unfathomable.  Then, to add salt to the gaping wound, 3 of the 4 have a strong possibly of being bully-related.  Is there a problem there?  Yes, there is.

In our typical, knee-jerk reactionary society, suddenly there are town hall meetings to address the issues of bullying and teen suicides.  Parents are alarmed, and rightfully so.  If I had a school-aged child in that area, (s)he wouldn’t be back in school until I was certain, 100% certain, that the school environment was safe enough to return to.  What does that mean?  To me, that’s a very simple answer:

A safe school environment is one in which students can attend, interact, and learn without the specter of being taunted, for whatever reason, picked on, or otherwise minimized.  It’s an environment where they can intermingle with whomever their social circle may be without the fear of being ridiculed, feel secure and develop the social skills they’re going to need as they move into the adult “workaday” world without the fear of being discriminated against or taunted, and be able to have an environment conducive to learning as opposed to living in fear of being picked on just because of who they are.  That’s not too much to ask.

Is there a problem there?  You can bet the farm on it.  I have recently seen with my own eyes exactly how deeply ingrained this problem of bullying and teen suicide is.  The mindset is so fluid, because its deep-roots, that many, many young people don’t even realize the repercussions of their words and actions.  I know that, now, for a fact.  I watched it unfold.  And, more than ever, I’m convinced that the ball is being dropped in the homes, by the adults in these young people’s lives, and by (in some cases) the parents. If for no other reason than the fact that some parents don’t even know that their child is a schoolyard or cyber bully, they have to be held accountable to a degree.

On the other side of the coin is the authoritative figures who run…no…sprint from the issue of bullying.  Where is the accountability in that?  If not for the 3 suicides that followed Joshuah Delos Santos, within the next 2-3 weeks, the whole issue and question of bullying would’ve been swept under the carpet just like many have before it.  That’s been made impossible, sadly, with 2 of the 3 suicide victims that followed were reported to involve bullying.  And, yet, it has become redundantly customary for the school officials and, often, law enforcement officials to very quickly erase the bullying possibility (probability?) from the equation.  Why?  Better question:  why are we allowing it to continue?

Here’s a reality check:  if a young person’s friends and social circle says, “yes, (s)he was being badly bullied”, it really doesn’t matter what the adult figures say about it.  It was happening.  Period.  It doesn’t matter if the teachers, principles, or school superintendents say “there’s no evidence…” of bullying.  It happened!  It doesn’t matter that the Chief of Police or just the school police liaison says “there’s no evidence…” of bullying.  It happened!  And, in reality, it doesn’t always matter if mom and dad says their child wasn’t being bullied because, the bare-boned fact of the matter is they spend much more time with their friends and social circle than they do with you!  Did you really tell your parents everything about your life when you were 13, 14, 15, 16 years old?  No.  You didn’t.  Neither did I.  Neither do they.  But, their friends, their social network, their peers…they know!  And, if they say it was happening, to believe otherwise is just plain silly.  And, obviously, deadly.

In response to the recent spate of suicides, officials have said:

“We need to respond. We just want to try to reach out to the parents in the community and make them understand we all need to work together. This is not a Pittston Area School District issue only. This is an issue that is bigger than the school district,” Pittston Area superintendent Michael Garzella said early Tuesday afternoon. “This is a community issue. This is a national issue. This is a problem that has to be dealt with. The only way we’re going to be able to prevent these things from happening is if we all work together.”

Congratulations on your epiphany.  This is what many of us have been trying to get “you” to understand for quite a while.  We’ve got an epidemic on our hands, it’s costing the lives of young people, and it’s time to stop dodging this issue and start the dialogue.  It’s just regretful that it’s taken you these four young lives to finally realize that this is real.

******************************************************************************************************

IF YOU, OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW, ARE STRUGGLING WITH BULLYING, DEPRESSION, OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, PLEASE TALK TO SOMEONE!  It could be the difference between life and death.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Befrienders

The Trevor Project

Enough is Enough: the blog page

 

Brandon Elizares, 16, Bullied to Suicide

with one comment


The numbers just keep adding on.  On June 2nd, we lost yet another LGBT teen to suicide.  And, once again, it was to escape the bullying he had been enduring.

According to 16-year-old Brandon Elizares’ mother, he had been bullied for the past two years because he didn’t want to be in the closet.  Wanting to be who he was, with no apologies, cost him his life.  In a television interview, Zachalyn Elizares said:
“He got bullied simply for being gay,” Elizares said. “He’s been threatened to be stabbed. He’s been threatened to be set on fire.”
Elizares said the El Paso Independent school district did everything it could to help solve the problem.
“They’ve reprimanded several kids and they did everything that they could,” Elizares said.
Elizares said that Brandon’s friends told her that there was an incident on Friday at school where someone insulted her son and planned to fight him the next week.

How many more of these young lives will have to be lost before people finally stand up and say, “Enough is enough!!??  Brandon should be preparing for his summer vacation…maybe even a summer job.  Or, perhaps planning to event the 5-day long El Paso Pride festivities.  Instead, his family had to plan his funeral.  I don’t know about you, but my blood boils now when I read, and write, about another teen suicide.

In just the past two weeks alone, we’ve seen instance after instance where prominent public figures have made it crystal clear that they have no desire to live on the same planet with someone who’s from the LGBT community.  Much more often than not, their bigotry is rooted in religion.  Does their reckless, bigoted vitriol have an effect on young minds?  Of course it does.  I have a friend whose 15-year-old son spews anti-gay rhetoric, in accordance to the Bible, at her regularly and mocks her for her efforts in the fight for equality and anti-bullying campaign.  His views are shaped by a father who is, himself, a deep-rooted Bible thumper.  The world was introduced to Caiden Cowger last week and his ridiculous video about the President turning young people gay.  Caiden is 14.  Hatred and intolerance is NOT something we’re born with.  It’s a taught and learned behavior.  The ones who bully kids they perceive to be LGBT, real or imagined, learned that level of intolerance from somebody else.  Typically, they learn it from adults, but not exclusively.

“My son had every right to live his live the way that he wanted to, without having to fear that people would call him names or threaten to beat him up,” – Zachalyn Enizares

It’s sad that in the year 2012, we’re still seeing the type of mind-numbing hatred, intolerance, and bigotry that I saw when I was a young boy.  That was during the height of the Civil Rights movement of the 60s.  It’s sad that day after day after day, we’re seeing these young people end their own lives because someone else decided that they weren’t fit to exist.  To be sure, my aforementioned friend’s son finds it humorous that LGBT teens are killing themselves.  How will a person justify that when their time comes to stand before God to be judged? It’s sad that we, as a people, are not evolving.

Brandon Enizares should be preparing for his summer vacation.  He’s not.  Two years of relentless bullying because of his sexuality was more than he could handle.  For all of our efforts to bring about changes in our culture, one that allows people to live happily just as they are, much more needs to be done.

It was reported that the school officials at Andres High School in El Paso, where Brandon was a student, took bullying very seriously and did everything they could to prevent it.  They are to be commended.  Still, more needs to be done.  More needs to be done in the homes.  More needs to be done in the religious sector.  More needs to be done in the political arena.  The time has come for dramatic changes in our collective consciousness.  We need more love and less hate.  We need more acceptance and less intolerance.  We need these changes firmly in place before we can start seeing the teen suicide rate begin to come down.  And, we need these changes to begin yesterday.

May you rest in peace, Brandon.