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Posts Tagged ‘Youth suicide

Hannah Gabriel Myer, 17: Her “Bully” was Depression

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With “bully”, “bullying”, and “bullycide” now a part of our everyday vernacular, it’s easy to lose track of the real fact that bullying isn’t the only driving force behind teen suicide.  Depression, as well as other mental illnesses, also play a large roll in it.  Depression, perhaps, just as much as bullying.  In fact, some say that depression is the leading cause of suicides.

Hannah MyerI received word late last week that 17-year-old Hannah Gabriel Myer ended her life on Wednesday, March 13th after a long battle with depression.  The person with whom I spoke will remain anonymous, but she was a longtime friend of Hannah’s.  The picture she painted of the struggles her friend endured was heartbreaking:

We lived in Colorado Springs Colorado.  She loved to ski and was 6 in our league.  She was a beautiful girl who didn’t like herself.  Her family was very rich, and none of her parents ever paid attention to her.  Her nanny always took care of her. She also had bulimia, but I was the only one who knew.  She used to cut.  She loved her dog so much, and she told me Spencer, the dog, would be the only reason she stayed.  I have Spencer now.

Her parents weren’t around much before she died, so they have asked me a lot. Like, what would she want at her funeral. If she wanted a funeral.  Her favorite song, etc.  She had a 4.0 and was in 3 APs.  She was basically the perfect child but was cracking under pressure and couldn’t tell anyone.  I was the only one who knew, and I’ve told counselors etc.  But, no one did anything.  And, now she’s gone.  She was just so beautiful and should never have died.

This beautiful girl had parents who didn’t know who their daughter was.  I’m sure that, now that she’s gone, they regret having missed out on sharing in on more of her life.  That they can no longer make amends and get to know their lovely daughter is equally as tragic as the suicide, itself.  This beautiful girl had a friend, who was her de facto family, in the true sense of the word, who tried to save her friend but knew in the end that “…whatever I do was never going to be enough.” Hannah Myer2I don’t know which is more frustrating:  the fact that, at least in Hannah’s mind, her parents were too busy with their own lives, or the fact that her friend tried getting her counseling but no one did anything.  Either of the two is bad enough.  Either of the two could be enough, on their own, to lead an already-fragile person over the edge.  Together, they form a lethal combination that proved too much for Hannah Myers to overcome.  Now she’s gone.  Now, her parents are struggling to learn who their daughter was through her friend while coping with the devastation of  losing a child.  This is never easy for anyone.

For as beautiful as Hannah was, I find it haunting to see the level of obvious pain in her eyes.  I wondered if that was just my imagination working after the fact.  I was assured by her friend, however, that the pain I thought I saw was, in fact, very real and very visible to anyone who took the time to notice.  Her response to my question of whether it was my imagination, or was I able to see the pain in her eyes was:  “You can. I saw, but no one else did”.

It’s never easy to write about these teen suicides.  In fact, it gets harder every time.  Like most teen suicides, if not all, this could’ve so easily been avoided.  Hannah Myer didn’t have to die!  Once again, we see an instance where sheer negligence led to the untimely death of a young person. The attempt was made to get her some much-needed therapy and counseling by a trained professional.  Nothing was done.  Again.  And, once again, we’re left wondering what is it going to take to get people – adults!! – to realize that we’ve got a major epidemic on our hands!?  Why are so many young people dying by their own hands with nothing being done about it!?  That is what’s most infuriating!!  It’s almost as if the message that is being sent is that these young lives are expendable.  That’s a tough pill to swallow; however, the redundancy of the situations surrounding far-too-many of these teen suicides makes it easy for one to walk away with that impression.  Certainly, more can be done to prevent them from happening.  Obviously, more needs to be done to prevent them from happening.  As one parent of a recent suicide victim put it:  “…Look at the kids. They’re reaching out to us, and we owe them more than what we’re giving them.”  That, from a parent who lost a teenager to suicide.  We can do more.  We must do much more.

Through this blog, you, Hannah, will never be forgotten.  Though most of the people who will read this never knew you, they will never forget you.  Or, your smile.  Or, the pain in your eyes.  I hope you are now at 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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Nathaniel Hamrick, 19, Death by Suicide

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While researching information about another unfortunate teen suicide, I stumbled across this sad posting on tumblr:

Rest Peacefully, dear.

Nathan Hamrick, 19 years old.  He committed suicide this morning.  His grandparents lived up main road,  & he rode the bus home with me all the time.  He used to drive me home when it was snowing outside.  He took his life after a supposed fight between him & his Ex-Fiance.  Mai heart goes out to those he was closest to.  His family, and friends, and even those like me, who felt he was a genuine person.  I hope you’re in a better place, Nathan.  I only wish I could have stopped it from happening.  You will never be forgotten. ♥~Tomorrow, there will be no school for those at mai High School. Councilors will be there to speak with anyone who needs to come.  & There’s now a Facebook page devoted to him. It hasn’t been a day, & he’s missed so terribly. ♥

Granted, the last time I followed information of a teen suicide from that particular website, it turned out to be a terribly cruel hoax.  Upon further investigation, sadly, I learned that this story is real.  The word on one of the facebook memorial pages set up in Nathan’s honor is that he had gotten in a fight with his ex-fiance.  However, that’s unsubstantiated.  What is evident on this facebook page as well as the other one set up to memorialize him is that he was very well-loved by both family and friends.  His mother posted this heart-wrenching farewell on one of the pages:

From his family, I want to say, Thank you to everyone that has said a kind word, called, visited or prayed.  Nathan was/is the best of the best.  His heart was as big as the world, but it could shatter with just one word.  He would take his shirt off and give it anyone that needed it.  He watched out for everyone but Nathan.  He loved his friends, and he would have fought side by side any one of them.  I was blessed to carry this precious young man inside my body for 9 months and then bring him into the world.  I gave him life and yesterday morning at 7 am I once again tried to force my life inside of him, but this time Mommy couldn’t kiss his boo boo and make it better.  I will always love you Nathan and baby I hope you have found peace.

Whatever it takes, and whatever the cost, we must figure out a way to drastically reduce the teen suicide rate.  It’s staggering to me that this is the third one that I’ve written about this week alone, and it doesn’t stop there!  What’s sobering is that these are only the ones I know about.  Make no mistake: there are more.

The question that has to be asked, repeatedly, “what can we do better to prevent these young people from ending their lives?”  I think removing the veil of secrecy would help a lot.  The argument is made that publicizing these tragedies glamorize teen suicides and influences other teens to accept it as an option.  NEWSFLASH:  they’re doing it in record numbers in spite of this veil of secrecy.  Suicide, and in particular, teen suicide is seen as a taboo subject.  And, to this author, that is counterproductive.  Blinding floodlights need to be shined on the subject so that awareness is raised and everyone can become better educated on how to prevent it.  Clearly, the status quo is not working.

What would’ve saved Nathan Hamrick’s life?  No one knows that answer; no one will ever know that answer.  What, if anything, could’ve been done differently that would’ve saved his life?  From everything I’ve read about this tragedy, there wasn’t a thing his family and friends could’ve done differently.

…Look at the kids. They’re reaching out to us, and we owe them more than what we’re giving them.”

We simply must find a way.  Too many lives are being lost.

Rest in peace, Nathan

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Teen Suicide Cluster in Pennsylvania

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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.

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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

 

Matthew Braamse, 15, Death by Suicide

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Matthew Braamse was an aspiring musician, with his music spread widely around the Interest.  A glance at the facebook memorial page in his honor clearly shows that Matthew was very much-loved, and loved by many.  Yet, on Saturday, September 15th, 15-year-old Matthew ended his brief, promising life.As is the case in nearly every teen suicide, the bullying issue has been brought up.  Was he bullied?  I don’t know.  Some, on the memorial page, say yes; some say no.  Was it depression he suffered from?  No answer for that.  Not at this point.  And, we may never find out.  The stunned family is still very much in shock and grieving, I’m sure.  The bottom line right now is it doesn’t matter why he chose to end his life.  What matters is that he did.

As is too often the case, we don’t really know what’s going on in the minds of some of these troubled, at-risk teens.  Outwardly, they appear to be happy, perhaps well-adjusted, in some cases even popular.  However, if all of those things were true, we wouldn’t be seeing the suicide rate amongst young people continue to climb.  So, then, the question becomes “what’s the missing element”?  What are we missing?  How do we go about keeping these young people alive?  Unfortunately, the answer to any of those questions aren’t easy to come by.

If bullying was involved, and again there’s no definitive answer to that at this moment, how do we get past all of the seemingly meaningless dialogue and get to the crux of the issue?  Indeed, the very words “bully” and “bullying” have become ingrained into our society’s psyche.  And, there is a virtual army of people around the globe, including myself on the facebook blog page, working tirelessly to bring awareness to the issue while, hopefully, start seeing a reduction in bullying…and, by extension, a reduction in bully-related teen suicides.  So far, just shy of a month into the new school year, the opposite is proving to be true:  bullying is still a very central issue; bully-related suicides aren’t going away.  Hell, they’re not even subsiding.

Here’s what I do know:  we, as a society, are failing miserably at handling the double-headed monster of bullying and bully-related suicides.  It is 100% impossible for any school-aged person in today’s world to not know that the occurrences of bully-related suicides have been steadily climbing over the past few years.  It’s in the news; it’s all over the Internet.  Almost daily!  That said, how is it that it is still happening?  Not only is it still happening but, from my perspective, it’s still escalating.  As the father of yet another recent teen suicide victims said just last week:

…Look at the kids. They’re reaching out to us, and we owe them more than what we’re giving them.”

I could not agree more.  Adults, parents, it’s time to re-examine how we’re all going about handling this.  If bullying was the culprit, it’s unfathomable, from what I’ve been reading on his memorial page that anyone would be as mean-spirited and cold-hearted as to bully someone who, at least from the outside looking in, was so gifted, cheerful, loving, and lovable.  Bullying needs to addressed.  Talking about addressing it is obviously failing miserably.  Definitive action needs to be taken, and that action absolutely MUST start in the homes!  There is no other way.  That has become painfully obvious.

Mental health issues need to become de-stigmatized and talked about openly and honestly.  These young people are “…reaching out to us, and we owe them more than what we’re giving them.”  No family should have to go through the suicide death of their young child.  Not one.  Yet, it’s still happening with alarming frequency.

Everyone adored him, that’s what the paper said, but, worst of all, they never knew the hell they put him through.

That’s a lyric from one of my own songs about teen suicide, “The Struggle“.  I wrote that years ago.  It still rings true today.  It.  Must.  End.

If you’re a young person reading this, know that talking saves lives.  Talk, and don’t stop talking until you find someone who will really listen.  Or, be that person who will listen, mouth closed, ears and hearts open.  Enough is enough.  It’s time to bring this dark chapter to an end.  Don’t you agree?

To the loving family and friends of Matthew Braamse, I offer you my sincerest condolences.  Rest in peace, young Matthew.

 

 

 

Ryan Nash, 15, Death by Suicide

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Let’s put this on the table first and foremost:  by all accounts, from people close to the family, Ryan was not bullied.  As has become the norm as soon as word hits the social media “grapevine” of yet another teen suicide, bullying is automatically assumed to be the culprit.  That is simply not always the case.  What matters most at the end of the day is that yet another youth has taken his or her life, that another family has been devastated, that friends who were close to the deceased are left to wonder “why?”.

What IS known at this point is that yesterday, May 6th, 15-year-old Ryan Nash ended his young life.  What is known, also, is that he was a freshman baseball player at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Illinois.  And, sadly, what is known is that Ryan’s family, friends, and, indeed, entire community are in a deep state of shock and mourning.  Everything else, at this point, is pure speculation.

What is important to realize, and reinforce, to all teens – whether you think they’re struggling or not! – is that there are resources available for them at all times.  There are people for them to talk to.  Let’s face it:  being a teenager is tough.  It was tough when I was a teen.  It’s even moreso today with the prevalence of the social media medium in our culture.  Today, more than ever, having resourses readily available, and visible!!for teens can be a difference of life and death.  Literally.

The deeper I delve into this whole issue of teen suicide, the more I learn.  Obviously.  And, one of the common threads has been the deadly silence.  That needs to be addressed.  We need to find a way to get the point across to all teens that if they’re struggling with something – bullying, relationship issues, depression, whatever! – they need to talk to someone.  Find an adult to talk to.  If not their parents, maybe the parents of a close and trusted friend.  Maybe an aunt or uncle.  SOMEBODY!!  The biggest key is to let them know that they don’t have to suffer in silence.  Silence is deadly.

In the case of Ryan Nash, by all accounts, he was a very popular young man, very well-liked, a baseball player.  His friends have been speaking up, via twitter, since Sunday’s tragic event.  They speak of him with nothing but love, respect, and sadness.

Conor 
Still in pain and shock ill miss you friend #RN20 never forgotten we have this eagles!

Nick 

Knowing my best friend, he would be doing the same thing if anyone else were in this position #RN20

His sister has even chimed in:

niki nash ‏
My brother can see how loved he was #RN20 thank you all so much for all of your support today

The bottom line is that, for all the effort that so many people are putting in, in an effort to stem the tide of teen suicides, we’re obviously not doing enough.  That means that, collectively, we all have to work harder, and faster!!, to find a solution.  It can, and must, be done.  The world is losing far, far, far too many young people to suicide.

To the family and friends of Ryan Nash, I send my deepest sympathy and condolences.  Rest in peace, Ryan.

Rest In Peace, Lennon Baldwin, 15: Suicide from Bullying

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Wednesday was a bad day.  In addition to the 12-year-old in West Virginia who ended his life due to bullying, Lennon Baldwin, 15, of New Jersey ended his young life as well.  Police in Morristown are investigating the suicide for the possibility of bullying.lennon-baldwin2-300x199

By all accounts, Lennon was a very well-liked, happy young man with an infectious smile.  I’ve witnessed, as well, that he was a very gifted, blooming artist.  A friend of Lennon’s posted this video as a tribute to his fallen friend.  A rising star now dimmed by suicide.

Unlike some other jurisdictions, the authorities in Morristown are on record as saying they are doing a “full investigation” into the suicide.  At this point, it is unclear whether bullying was the cause or not.

Teen suicide, whatever the reason, regardless of their sexual orientation, is an issue that absolutely has to be addressed with the same urgency as a recently reported “epidemic” of teen smoking.  If not moreso.  After all, we can get teens to stop smoking.  No one has figured out how to stop anyone from being dead.  Once the suicide attempt is successful, that’s it.  A young life is senselessly and needlessly snuffed out.  Dreams are extinguished.  Families and friends are left with hearts ripped as they try to make sense of it all.

What is the solution?  I wish I could answer that.  Right now, no one can.  However, there are things we can do to put a serious dent in what’s going on.

For starters, we can work as one in convincing the people who lead that teen suicide is a very serious issue in our culture, not only in our country but worldwide.  It is a plague that deserves the full-attention of every politician, every religious leader, every school administrator across the board.

The scourge of bullying, which is at the root of far too many teen suicides needs to be met head-on and dealt with.  In some ways, that’s easier said than done.  Why?  Because on one level, it’s very easy for us all, including myself, to call for the heads of those who bully another human being to the point where they feel the only way to make it stop is to end their own life.  And, indeed, I do feel that those who continually and willfully bully a person should be held accountable if that person commits suicide because of their actions.  It’s no different than the bully holding a gun to that same person’s head and pulling the trigger.  They are just as dead either way.  The difference is, in this case, the one who pulled the trigger is obviously charged with murder.  So, why should bullying someone to the point where he or she feels the only way out is commit suicide be any different.  Why?  Because it’s more complex than that.  See, on another level is the reality that we, as humans, are not born to hate.  We are not born intolerant.  The exact opposite it true.  That means that they are taught these emotions and behaviors.  And, unfortunately in this case, a young person’s brain is a sponge.  They learn well.  So, to get at the root of bullying, it is imperative to start with the adults.  If Johnny constantly hears his dad, his religious leader, or political leaders constantly express their disdain, their intolerance and hatred of certain groups of people, whether it’s different races or people of a different sexual orientation, he’s learning from them that it’s ok to treat these people like they don’t belong.  It’s ok to call them the most degrading names.  It’s ok to bring physical harm to them.  No!!  It’s NOT ok!!!  And, everyone, from the adults to the young ones, needs to understand that.  Every single life is precious.

Another big contributor to teen suicides is mental health issues.  Leading the way in this area is depression.  Knowing the symptoms of depression is a crucial first-step.  Knowing how to deal with teen depression can be life-saving.

We can only hope for a speedy solution, one that will lead to a reduction and eventual end to the bullying/teen suicide epidemic.

Unfortunately, all of our efforts will be too late for the family and friends of Lennon Baldwin.  All we can do for them now is wrap our arms around them and support them as they struggle mightily to make sense of this.  We can go to the facebook page set up in Lennon’s honor and leave our condolences.  And, we can pray that he now finds the peace he was denied while he was here with us.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS BEING BULLIED, SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY!!  DON’T STOP SEEKING HELP UNTIL YOU FIND SOMEONE WHO WILL LISTEN AND TAKE ACTION.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE SUICIDAL, PLEASE SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY!!  THERE ARE MANY, MANY RESOURCES AROUND FOR YOU.  

Suicide Support 

STOP Teenage Suicide  

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  

UPDATE:

I erroneously stated earlier in this that Lennon was an artist “as seen in this video”. The artist in the video is his friend, Andrew, who drew the picture of Lennon as a tribute.  Sorry for the confusion.

Written by Ron Kemp

March 31, 2012 at 4:10 am