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

Posts Tagged ‘Suicide

Spencer Watson Seupel 1990-2012

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Making sense of a suicide is a daunting task at best.  In many, if not most, cases, it’s an impossible one.  Friday, Spencer Watson Seupel, 21, ended what promised to be a brilliant, productive, happy life.  He wasn’t bullied.  There’s no indication anywhere of him being gay.  Still, in a moment of impulsivity, he’s gone.

Spencer’s suicide was the result of binge drinking.  Alcohol.  That cunning, and quite legal, drug that claims thousands of lives annually.  At the root of the suicide, however, was something deeper.  I certainly cannot tell the story any better than his own mother.  It’s a very compelling story, indeed.

In the media, and in the circles of social media, we hear a lot about bullying as it pertains to young people ending their lives.  And, make no mistake, bullying is an issue that demands a lot of immediate attention as it truly is playing a large role in many, many teen suicide.  However, bullying is not the only reason young people commit suicide.  Understanding that is a vital baby step in the right direction.  Knowing some of the other issues that leads young people to feel suicide is the only answer is an essential quantum leap in that same direction.

Depression has been named in many teen suicides even since I began this blog in November.  In some instances, even if there’s been bullying, depression was the actual root.  The bullying simply exacerbated an already volatile situation.  Understanding depression isn’t restricted to just the psychiatric field by any stretch.  We can educate ourselves, as well.  We can, and we must if we’re to save lives.  But, the vast majority of us are not professionals in the field of mental health.  Therefore, how would we know?  How could we spot it?  And, better still, what do we do when we do recognize it?  That’s where educating ourselves comes in.

See, if we’re to truly make a difference, if we’re really serious about bringing about change, it’s going to take so much more than just ranting about how bad it is that all these beautiful young souls are killing themselves or how horrifying it is that these young people are being bullied.  And, that’s not said in a derogatory manner by any means.  I do as much ranting as any two people combined!  That said, and beyond the ranting, it’s going to take real action if we’re to rein this back in.  It can be done.

Sometimes, something as simple as a kind word, or an attentive ear can make a difference in a young person’s life.  Far too many of these young people feel disconnected, a sense of worthlessness even as their families and friends surround and shower them with love and attention.  Self-esteem appears to be a major factor.  So, giving them positive reinforcements regularly helps bolster their low sense of worth.  As non-professionals, we can still help reverse that by reminding them, constantly, of the positives in their lives.

For Spencer, perhaps it was a mixture of all the above.  Certainly, the drug we call alcohol delivered the final blow.  But, there were already mechanisms in place that created the environment, if only in his own mind, that made Spencer feel suicide was the answer.  His loving family is left to attempt to put the pieces of this puzzle together.  I hope Spencer can now find the peace that eluded him here on Earth

Drew Ferraro’s Family Fights Back Against Bullying

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With the grief still raw from his suicide, the family of Drew Ferraro has decided to join the fight to end bullying.  At a memorial service held for their gone-too-soon son, they handed out business cards with Drew’s image on one side, and the numbers for suicide prevention as well as the email address for a couple of websites to stop bullying.  None of this will help bring back Drew, of course, but their aim is to do everything they can to assure that no family ever has to go through the devastation that they’re experiencing.

This is what it’s going to take.  It’s going to take more families getting involved and demanding change.  No child, ever, should be bullied…period.  As an extension, however, no child certainly should ever have to feel like the only way to get away from the bullying is to end his or her life.  That’s why I write these articles.  That’s why so many people are getting involved with such a critically essential struggle:  this has to end now!

We are already painfully aware that the officials, be it school officials, law enforcement, or even some politicians, are more than willing to turn a blind eye to the problem.  Indeed, the statement from the La Cresenta law enforcement was that “their investigation” showed no evidence of bullying.  In fact, he defiantly added “I know there has been a lot of speculation about bullying — it had nothing to do with that.”  Apparently, their investigation was in the wrong places.  It was reported here from the beginning that Drew Ferraro ended his life because of bullying.  Now certainly isn’t the time or place for “I told you so”, and that’s not my intent; however, if friends and family say that it was caused by bullying, it just doesn’t matter what the school officials or law enforcers say.  They’re simply trying to cover their own asses.  Those closest to the victims, those left to pick up the pieces, will certainly know better than the “officials” what happened to their loved one.

It’s up to us, the concerned citizens of the world community, to make the changes that are necessary to bring this woeful chapter to an abrupt end.  A lot is being done.  And, progress is being made.  Just not fast enough.  Certainly not fast enough to save Drew Ferraro’s life or any other of the dozens of teens who have taken their own lives because of bullying just this year alone.  Dozens!!  Today is only the 49th day of the year!!!  Can you see the urgency?

These are links and numbers everyone should have handy at all times:
WHOF’s Suicide Support page
STOP Teenage Suicide
Stop Bullying website

No child, gay or straight, black or white, fat, skinny, Martian, or otherwise should ever, EVER, be put in a position where they feel that ending their life is the only hope they have for the bullying to end.  At the end of the program handed out by Drew’s family at his memorial get-together were the words “Zero Tolerance against Bullying”.  Where have you read that before?

12-Year-Old Clifford Rodriques Dead by Suicide in New Bedford

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This in my third article in just over 17 hours, and all three were dealing with another preventable loss of a young life.  On Monday, January 31st, Clifford Rodriques died by suicide.  It remains a mystery as to the why of this case.  Police investigation is ongoing.

I don’t think I need to state anymore the state of emergency that we are in.  Talking about it isn’t changing anything.  Well, it is.  It’s making us more and more angry.  And, that’s not a bad thing at all.  Perhaps, we can begin turning the anger into positive action.  No longer can we wait for somebody else to initiate the change.  Each and every one of us has to do our part, to the best of our ability, to prevent this from continuing.  Sometimes, simple steps go a long way:

  • know the warning signs.  I can’t emphasize enough how important that is.
  • Talk to your son, daughter, sister, brother, or friend, if they appear to be in distress.  More importantly, listen carefully to what they’re saying.
  • Don’t hesitate to get the proper authorities involved.
  • Have resources readily available if you know of someone who’s voicing suicidal ideation.
  • Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook isn’t just about the LGBT community.  They’re touching, and saving many lives.  They have a wonderful section on suicide support on their website.  Use it.
  • Keep this link handy: Befrienders Worldwide.
  • And, definitely have this number readily available:  1-800-273-TALK (8255)  That is the number for the national suicide prevent lifeline.  They have a website as well as a facebook page.

Being highly involved, sadly, won’t save Clifford Rodriques’ life.  However, being highly involved will go a long way towards ending this maddening cycle of teen suicides.  I hope I’m able to see it within my own lifetime.

Written by Ron Kemp

February 3, 2012 at 2:26 am

Petitions to STOP Tennessee Lawmakers from Victimizing the LGBT Community

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I read yet another heartbreaking article about Phillip Parker and the abuse he endured.  I cried.  It went as far as the church, a pastor, telling him to pray the demons out of him so that he could be straight.  Yes.  In Tennessee, being gay is demonic.  How many more lives will be lost to this sickness that’s being passed off as Tennessee law?  How many more LGBT teens will be cornered into suicide as the bigoted, myopic lawmakers continue to endorse and pass legislation that sanctions their abuse, prevents teachers to intervene in the abuse, and completely demonize their existence?

There are petitions already in place to force their hands.  There is power in numbers.  Here are three petitions that NEEDS to be signed and then massively circulated.  There needs to be an overwhelming number of names on these petitions so that we can show them that we will no longer tolerate their intolerance.  Reversing, or stopping, these bills will work towards providing protection for the LGBT youth of Tennessee as well as stripping away the power to freely discriminate against the LGBT community, in general.

This petition is to force the Tennessee lawmakers to eliminate the language in the anti-bullying bill that would allow for the bullying of LGBT citizens, teens in particular, as long as it’s done for religious, philosophical, or politic believes.  This is a very crucial petition.  Sign and share.  And, share.

This petition strips away the insanely myopic and bigoted “Don’t Say Gay” bill.  Without that bill in place, Phillip Parker may still be alive today.  The teachers who wanted to help would’ve been able to do so without breaking the law.  Understand:  it is illegal for teachers to intervene if an LGBT teen is being abused; it’s illegal for counselors to counsel them!  Sign and share.  And, share.  And, encourage others to share.

This petition  is to help protect other LGBT teens in Cheatham County, where Jacob Rogers committed suicide in December.  The rules MUST be changed; the laws MUST be reversed.  There has to be stronger policies in place to protect the LGBT teens going to school in Tennessee.  And, it’s up to all of us, concerned citizens, to push for change.  The lawmakers there have already shown that they’d rather see them kill themselves off.  Zero tolerance!

Another Gay Teen Lost to Bullycide: Rest in Peace, Phillip Parker, 14

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Every time we lose another LGBT teen to bullycide, we suffer another setback in our efforts to end this malignancy plaguing the LGBT community.  Phillip Parker, 14, ended his young life last week after enduring bullying over a period of time at his Gordonsville, Tennessee high school.  Tennessee is also the state where Jacob Rogers succumbed to bullycide in early December and the same state that I wrote about, here, earlier in the month.  You may recall that Tennessee lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that will allow bullying as long as it is for religious, philosophical, or political beliefs.  We’re not going to let that happen.  A petition needs to be up within the next 24 hours to present to the Tennessee legislation letting them know that we will no accept them sanctioning bullying against LGBT teens.

According to the news report, Phillip’s family had gone to the school administrators numerous times to report that he was being bullied.  Nothing changed.  No, I’m wrong.  Things DID change.  Things actually got worse for him.  The bullying increased.  Finally, he’d had enough.

Knowing about these tragedies isn’t nearly enough.  What’s needed is a continued concerted effort of many people, loudly and strongly stating the message that “We’re mad as Hell, and we’re NOT gonna take it anymore!”  Every state legislature needs to be heavily petitioned until there are very strongly-worded laws on the books that will protect EVERY teen from the horrors of bullying.  The penalties for bullying need to be harsh.  After all, the penalties against the families and friends of those who take their own lives because of bullying are as harsh as it gets.  Further, school systems need to be penalized heavily for failure to a.)  provide each student with a safe learning environment; and, b.)  act upon complaints of bullying.  No way should they be allowed a free pass when a family losses their loved ones.

It goes without saying that our deepest sympathies and heart-felt prayers go out to the family and friends of 14-year-old Phillip Parker.  May you find peace in Paradise.

Bullycide’s “Other” Victims

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By now, we all know of bullycide and its victims.  It’s become a lexicon as it pertains to the recent escalation of teen suicides.  Bullycide has claimed far too many victims this year alone.  We now hear regularly of another teen who was bullied relentlessly until they reached their breaking point and ended their life.  But, there are other victims of bullycide.

Surely, the families and friends of these teens who gave up too soon, who couldn’t take another day of the torment are unintended victims, themselves.  And, unlike the teen who is no longer suffering, these people are left with a lifetime of unfathomable pain and struggle.  In fact, the pain in unrelenting.  In many cases, the families of these targeted victims have turned their pain into positive action.  While allowing themselves time and space to grieve their loss, they’ve also immersed themselves in activities and causes in attempt to prevent another family from having to deal with what they’re going through.

Sometimes, their positive energies and actions aren’t enough to save them from the inner pain they deal with on an everyday basis.  Even the strongest steel breaks under too much pressure.  In November, it was Roger Crouch, father of Dominic who had succumbed to bullycide the previous year.  Roger turned the pain from Dominic’s suicide into a massive and effective effort to not only bring worldwide awareness to the problem, but to also reach out to other families who were walking the same walk.  Then, the steel broke.  November 28, 2011, Roger ended his pain.

Kameron Jacobsen was 14 years old when he lost his life to bullycide January 18, 2011.  And, from that tragedy, Kevin and Wanda Jacobsen set out on a mission, not unlike Roger Crouse’s, to make a difference, to do their best effort to save even just one family from suffering through what they were going through.  They created KAM, “Kindness Above Malice”.  In Kameron’s honor, and to help alleviate their own pain, they set out to reach out to other teens, both the bullied and the bully, in an effort to help bring this madness to an end.  Saturday, January 7th, Kevin Jacobsen took his own life.  The steel broke once again.

As witnessed by the brutal beating witnessed by tens of thousands earlier this week of a Chicago teen, we have a very, very long way to go before we can begin to celebrate victory.  However, with the loss of Kevin Jacobsen, as well as Roger Crouch before him, we’re seeing that bullying has a crippling ripple effect.

To Kevin Jacobsen, may you rest in peace with your son, Kameron.  Thank you for your efforts in the fight to end bullying and bullycide.  And, to Wanda Jacobsen, our prayers and condolences are with you.  May you find peace.

Eric James Borges, 19, May You Rest Peacefully

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Suicide has claimed yet another teen and another teen from the LGBT community.  Eric James Borges, known to his friends as EricJames, died Wednesday, January 11, 2012.  He was a 19-year-old intern with The Trevor Project.  Sadly, even being involved with that group couldn’t save him.

Like many victims of suicide before him, Eric wanted to help others even as he was struggling with his own situations.  Eric was dealt a troubling hand right from birth as he was unwanted by his birth parents.  Still, he navigated his way through 19 turbulent years, interning with The Trevor Project and becoming a Supplemental Instructor at the College of the Sequoias.  And, through it all, a look at his facebook page info reveals a positive young mind with a great spirit and passion to live…and give.

To the family and friends of EricJames, we offer our condolences and prayers.

To everyone else, I say never stop trying to reach these young people.  Listen carefully to what they have to say.  Lives are depending on it.  We’ll never know if a compassionate ear would’ve saved EricJames.  All we can do at this point is say Rest in Peace, EricJames.  You were a rising star.