ronkempmusic

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

Posts Tagged ‘olivia penpraze

Memorial Day and Remembering

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The Memorial Day holiday is meant to reflect upon and honor those brave young men and women who have paid the ultimate price for our country.  That’s not to be taken lightly.  Whereas we here in America still have fight amongst ourselves for freedoms that are supposedly guaranteed to us, if we didn’t have these brave warriors fighting for us on the international stage, we wouldn’t even have the freedoms that we do enjoy.

The Memorial Day holiday, for me at least, is also a time to reflect upon the far-too-many young lives we’ve lost in another war.  A war that’s still raging.  The war against our teens, and especially our LGBT teens.  Whether it’s because of suicide or from violence against them, whether they’re straight or LGBT, or even perceived as LGBT, the loss of life of a young person to this war is a blackeye on the face of our society.
This is a senseless, and needless, war, to be sure.  It’s a war that could end on a dime if the ones waging the war would simple learn acceptance rather than hatred and intolerance.  The losses continue at a staggering pace, and little more than lip service seems to be going on to prevent it from reoccurring.  That makes this a very deadly and dangerous war, indeed.
I remember as far back as my first year out of high school.  That was the very first time I encountered a teen suicide.  He was an underclassman, sophomore if my memory serves me right.  I didn’t know him, personally.  However, a lot of my friends did.  I saw the devastating effect it had on them.  I went to the wake with them.  The devastation on his parents’ faces is permanently etched into my mind.  That event changed me forever.
I remember back to my own failed suicide attempt(s).  I remember waking up in ICU and looking at the board that displayed the names of the people in my particular ward.  There were two of us.  When I saw the second name, I had to do a double take.  Iknew that name.  My mind raced, even through the grogginess of the anesthesia.  I glanced over to the person in the other bed, and sure enough, it was who I thought it was.  I’d known him when he was younger: 13-14.  He was my best friend’s neighbor and friends with my best friend’s younger brother.  And, he was very obviously gay.  It exuded from him, even as a young teen.  Now, he was 19.  I worked up the energy to ask him, with alarm, “what are you doing here!?”  His response gave me chills.

“I’m here for the same reason you’re here:  I tried to kill myself.”

Even as I lied in a hospital bed recovering from my own failed suicide attempt, I was heartbroken that this young man had found life as a young LGBT teen so unbearable that he thought suicide was the only way out.  I prodded for more of an explanation.  I revealed to him that I knew when he was 13 that he was gay.  He revealed that he realized it when he was even younger.  He obliged my prodding.

“My whole family disowned me when I finally came out of the closet.  My dad said he wished I was dead.  I just couldn’t handle it anymore.  I’m only 19!!, and I have no family!”

I cried with him.  And, it was there that the seeds were sown for doing something to make a difference.  Nobody should have to go through what he was going through.  No young person should have to feel that death was better than dealing with the negativity that is cast upon being gay or lesbian.

I remember, even at an earlier age, having a friend who was slightly younger than myself.  He was very flamboyantly gay, which was a white elephant back in that day.  I remember a phone conversation where he revealed to me his inner feelings:

If I could take a ‘straight pill’ tomorrow, I would.  Being gay is just too hard.  I’m tired of being shit on everyday.  My dad acts like I don’t even exist!

Sadly, neither of them are with us today.

Today, while we remember those brave young men and women who put on military uniforms and go to combat and paid the ultimate price for our nation’s freedom, let’s also remember the brave young men and women who put on their own “uniforms” and go to battle daily against a society that routinely engages them in a different kind of battle.  Different, but no less volatile.

Today, we remember the hoards of young people who have lost their lives simply because a society can’t find it in their hearts to accept rather than hate.  Whether their demise came from their own hands, or at the hands of someone, the result is the same:  they are all casualties of a war that should not even be being fought.

To the young men and women who gave their lives protecting our country, thank you.  We honor you today and everyday.

To the young people who’s lives were cut short because of a society that made your lives unbearable, thank you for touching our lives.  We love, honor, and miss you today and every single day.

Olivia Penpraze, 19: Bullying and Depression Leads to Death by Suicide

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On the Jamie Hubley page that serves as my homepage, one of the regulars posted this yesterday:

I was hoping that i would never have to do something like this but it seems that that time has come. as of 9:20pm 3rd of April 2012 (Melbourne Australia time) a girl by the name of Olivia Penpraze died as a result of a suicide attempt. she was on life support for a number of days and her parents had to make the traumatic decision to turn it off as she was brain-dead. like Jamie, she used tumblr as her escape to post all of her thoughts and messages. she suffered from extreme depression and it really upsets me that I didn’t do anything to help her, even though there probably was nothing I could do.  She will be one of the many teenagers each year that goes unnoticed, not documented, not in the media. but all i hope is that she is in a better place now. it’s your time to shine Olivia, we all love and miss you ♥

No, Andrew, she won’t go unnoticed.  Not if I have anything to do with it.  I watched the video that she had made, and it just ripped my heart from my chest.  No one, no one should have to live such a life of unchecked turmoil.  Olivia had been screaming for help for almost a decade.  Finally, the demons of mental illness and depression won.  Depression that was brought on by bullying.200160-olivia-penprazeBullying.  Again.  Will it ever end?  Not as long as people keep talking about it rather than doing something about it.  According to a post her father made on her tumblr page, a photo and thought-sharing website used by many teens, people there had been bullying her, as well.  How on Earth does a person sit behind a computer screen and urge a person who is already obviously in crisis to kill themselves?  How does one think that’s cool or funny?  Or, do they just truly not care?  Olivia’s dad’s letter said that this had gone on before she attempted suicide for the last time:

To all of my daughter’s followers, this is to let you all know that on Thursday, 29th March, Olivia attempted suicide, as a result she is on life support and this will be terminated shortly due to her being brain dead.  So, to all of the people who posted support of this outcome on this blog, you can be real proud of yourselves.  As a father who witnessed her first breath of life and now to witness her last, I thank you for your utmost disregard for life.  If this sort of activity gets you off, you are nothing.  To those of you who offered her support to refrain from killing herself, thanks.  You should all try to make contact with family even if it is against your wishes.  At least leave a contact somewhere on your blog in times of need.  I know that you all need somewhere you can vent your anger and feelings and that these blogs can help, but in reality family must always come first…Olivia Penpraze

I talked to someone else just tonight, as I was writing this actually, who had someone on that same page telling her that she, too, should kill herself.  Who is teaching these young people such a deep level of hatred?  Is it hatred?  Or, is it simply an ambivalence of human life?  Do today’s youth just not give a rat’s ass about the next human being?  Have they become desensitized to human life?  Look, it’s become painfully and frighteningly clear that the change in our culture has got to start with the adults since that’s where young people learn from.  No teen, anywhere, should ever feel so helpless and hopeless that they feel the only way out is to end their life.  At the same time, no teen, anywhere, at anytime!, should feel that it’s perfectly okay to bully another person for any reason.  Hatred and intolerance is taught.

When I asked Andrew, the young man who posted the original post about Olivia’s lost battle, if he had anything he wanted to say about her, he had this:

she loved her friends and always seemed happy. I remember once at choir she said she was changing schools. That may have been when she quit school like she said in her video. As i have said before, I wasn’t close with her.  But, on the outside, she was happy; on the inside, it seems she was screaming for help.  We all miss her, and I personally am going to do everything I can in my power now to put an end to bullying and teen suicide.

We need more Andrews.  Families and friends should now be forced to go through this kind of trauma…this level of pain.  May you rest in peace, Olivia.

Written by Ron Kemp

April 6, 2012 at 7:07 am