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

Posts Tagged ‘STOP Teenage Suicide

Historic Moment

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While we’re enjoying a moment of relative calm, and I’m knocking on wood as I say that, I figured this is a good time to do a little reflecting.  And, sharing.

We’re in a time period right here and now that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a much younger man.  I’ve always said that the only way things were ever going to change would be for every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trangender person to come out of the closet and make themselves known.  That day is here.  We’re coming out at the workplace; we’re coming out in middle and high school.  And, our voices are resonating around the globe.  It’s a beautiful day.

Of course, it isn’t coming without resistance from “the other side”.  That just means that we’re doing something right!  We’re standing up and telling the world that we are no less equal than anyone else.  And, it’s scaring the hell out of “them”.  That’s fine.  Change scares people.

And, of course, there’s still a lot of work to be done.  The issue of bullying and LGBT teen suicide is a black eye on the face of this, the new Civil Rights movement.  Slowly but surely, as more and more people are standing up to be counted, changes are being made even on that sore spot.  In some cases, sadly, the change isn’t coming fast enough.

We’re at an exciting time in our history.  Not just LGBT history!  History, period!!  Within the next 10-15 years, marriage equality will be the norm.  The LGBT teen suicide will be next-to-nil because the changing environment will no longer tell them that they’re freaks, sick, or damaged.  It will embrace them.  At the very least, it will accept them.  What a major boost to their collective self-esteem that will be.  We’re on the forefront of that movement right here, right now.  And, years down the road, people will look back upon this time as the turning point, the point in time where we stood up and told the world ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, and made them listen.  And, there will be names that will stand out.

Kevin “Kel” O’Neil has created a monster of a facebook community, and website, that is truly changing and saving lives!

Lyndsay Winegarden created a safe haven for at-risk teens in her effort to STOP Teenage Suicide.  That’s no small feat.

Charity Smith created a forum for people to come out anonymously.  How huge is that!?  That’s a major step for many people.

When Jamie Hubley committed suicide in October 2011, several tribute pages popped up on facebook in his honor.  One in particular, though, has morphed into the most loving and caring support community online.  People there know each other by name.  When people have struggles, there’s always, always, always people there ready to rush to their assistance.  Amazing.

Young people are coming forward bravely and very effectively and reaching out to their peers in an effort to make a difference.  Brett Simpson created a video encouraging other teens to contact him personally if they needed someone to talk to or if they were struggling.  Not satisfied with that, he turned his personal social network page into a support community AND started a second one.  The response to both has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Jonah Mowry is part of a group of teens who have decided to take the matter of bullying, as well as their future as LGBT teens, into their own hands.  They are organizing what they’re calling the Monster March Against Bullying, with the goal of having tens of thousands of teens from all over the country (world?) march with them to San Francisco’s City Hall in October.  That’s incredible stuff!

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that it was Jamie Hubley’s suicide that made me decide to roll up my sleeves and get involved in trying to make a difference.  This blog was created, and will always be written, in his honor.  He gave me my true voice.  And, since its inception on November 7th, I’ve been humbled by the response it has received.  It’s being read by hundreds, and sometimes thousands, per day.  More importantly, it’s making a difference in people’s lives.  That wouldn’t be happening, however, without every single one of you who are reading these words right now!  You read it; you respond to it by way of your comments and emails; and, you get involved when it’s called upon you to do so.  So, it’s actually YOU who are making the difference!!

Together, we are changing history!!  I’ve dreamed of this historic moment forever.

Online Support Groups: “You’ve Gotta Give ‘Em Hope”

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All over the World Wide Web and, in particular, within the 800,000,000+ community of facebook, there are people banding together like never before in an effort to exact change in our society.  More specifically, these people, groups, and communities, are working feverishly to build a better world for the LGBT community.  From working towards equality for all people, gay or straight, black or white, to dealing with the issue of bullying, to helping people young and not-so-young come out of the closet, we’re witnessing a lot of great things unfold right before our eyes.

There are some groups, led by some dynamic and driven people, that are leading the way for all of us.  At the head of that class would have to be Kevin O’Neil’s creation, Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook.  I became part of that community in October of last year, right as it was in the middle of “going viral”.  From the membership of slightly under 100,000 when I joined, it has burgeoned to close to 300,000.  In less than 3 months!  That says that something really good is going on there.  Says Kevin, or “Kel” as we know him, many of the people who post comments in the community wall thanks him, and Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook, for “giving me strength to go on”.  People, young and old, growing from the support of knowing that such a positive and powerful group of people, gay and straight alike, from all over the world is there for them, giving them strength.  And, the community is constantly growing by large numbers!
The Equality Mantra is a group that was started with the mission of glorifying “…the marvelous diversity of humanity while believing, fundamentally, that we’re all the same.”  There, they share stories, pictures, valuable information.  Most of all, they share love.
ABC:  Anti-Bullying Coalition is one of my personal favorites.  That’s because bullying is a subject that’s very critical to me.  In their own words:

We are passionate about implementing pro-active anti-bullying solutions into our school system and as far around the world as we can grow! We have found such need in our community to advocate for families as well as help change the belief that “kids will be kids” and “it makes them stronger” with the knowledge that even one bullying episode can have life long negative effects. And although our program is currently focused on school time bullying, we hope to spread the word; bullying is a personality and it spans all ages and crosses all boundaries; race, religion, size, gender, socioeconomic status, educational level, sexual orientation and does not stop in High School but continues on to the workplace, retirement homes, private clubs, organizations, it’s everywhere. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support! Share the word!

They’ve got the right message.  Their work is helping many people.

I recently did an entry on Charity Smith and her brilliant creation, Project:  OUT.  This is a project that is helping so many LGBT people, young and not-so-young, with their coming out process.  For those who don’t already know, the coming out process can be quite traumatic.  We’ve lost too many teens to traumatic coming out processes, with the latest being 19-year-old- EricJames Borges.  Here, they can do so anonymously which can be extremely therapeutic.

And, then there’s Lyndsay Winegarden’s gem of a group, STOP Teenage Suicide.  I love this one so much.  I did an entry on Lyndsay and her page, as well.  She’s a remarkable, very courageous lady who is doing great work in the area of trying to bring an end to teen suicide.  That’s my mission, as well.

That’s just a handful of online resources that are paving the way to a much brighter, healthier, and safer world, not only for the LGBT community exclusively, but for all people.  As the great people at The Equality Mantra put it:

“We all bleed red when pricked. We all cry salty tears. We are all the same. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“If you “like” marriage equality…if you’re encouraged by the six states that have passed marriage equality, and hope the other 44 will SOON follow suit…if you long for equality across the colors to be a reality…if you dream of the day when what we look like, how we worship, where we come from, and who we love are issues that no longer have a seat at the table…if you model love and compassion, and hope to make the world a little bit better by caring and sharing, rather than by denigrating and tearing down…please join [us], and suggest that your friends join. Share your stories, your pictures. Share yourselves. Share the love.”

That’s the general theme of all of us as we band together to make a difference.  The great news is there’s always room for more dedicated people.

A Story of Remarkable Strength, Courage, and Caring

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If you look around our social landscape, you see a bleak picture painted by the brush of today’s youth who see no other way out but suicide.

If you look around the world’s leading social network, you see many pages by many people who are trying to make a difference by attempting to stem the tide of teen suicides.  Right there leading the charge is STOP Teenage Suicide.

The page’s founder, Lyndsay Winegarden, has a remarkable story.  It’s a story of strength, courage, perseverance, and caring.  Read it for yourself.  It’s…well…what I just said.  And then some.

What she has created, STOP Teenage Suicide, has been a very effective tool.  She tells of how many young lives she saved just over the recently-passed holidays, alone.  The membership of the group is growing by the day as people from all around the world are finding out that it’s a place for helping as well as being helped.  And, as she said in her own words, “if I can save even one life, it will all be worth it”.  Indeed.  She’s not just saving “…one life…”, she’s saving and helping many.

This is amazing considering where she’s come from and everything she’s had to deal with.  Her story, alone, should be enough to inspire any teen when they’re in their darkest hour.  Enduring what Lyndsay’s had to endure, even as she worked through a deep depression, and coming out stronger for it sends a very strong, crystal clear message of “yes, it really does get better”.  People are now paying attention to what she has to say.  And, the timing for that couldn’t be better as the battle to end teen suicide has never been more impassioned than today.

This business of trying to save lives is no easy task, by any stretch of the imagination.  By getting involved, we understand that we will be required, at some point, to make many sacrifices.  Sometimes, it’s time consuming.  Sometimes, especially when the at-risk teen is on the other side of the world, it’s hard to find the resources you need to keep that teen alive.  All of the time, it’s emotionally draining.  There are many, many people giving their best effort to make a difference, trying to end teen suicides.  There are tireless people on countless pages and website.  There are bloggers.  You quickly come to understand that what you’re doing is changing lives.  Right now, no one is doing that better than Lyndsay Winegarden and her creation, STOP Teenage Suicide.