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Teen Suicide on the Rise Due to Bullying

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Recently there has been an unfortunate rise in teen suicides here in the United States.  In fact, as many as seven have occurred in the last two weeks. In most of the cases, the ones committing suicide have faced severe bullying due to their sexual orientation or rumored sexual orientation. Whatever the cause of the bullying, there has to be something to done to help those who are victimized by this nonsense.

When I was a kid, the bullying was within the classroom or on the playground. We didn’t have to deal with social networking where classmates can now ambush you as a group—24/7. Access to the internet also allows people to hide behind fake screen names and brutalize their victims anonymously. Photoshopping is another popular way used to demean and embarrass victims by imposing their faces on unflattering pictures. There are just too many tools available for one to torment a potential victim.

As mentioned earlier, many of these suicides stemmed from a person being bullied due to their sexual orientation and or rumored sexual orientation. Homosexuality seems to be such a taboo topic  especially in schools. Is it the responsibility of the school system to help students with their sexuality or is that up to the parent? Should it be part of the Sex Ed classes? I don’t know if it’s the responsibility of the school to help students with their sexuality, but they do need to teach these students about tolerance. If students don’t know how to be tolerant to those who are different, then it’s likely that some will have a negative reaction to a gay classmate. Tolerance has to be taught early and often, so that it becomes embedded in mindset of the students. They need to know that tolerance is something they’ll not only need as student, but in life in general.

Many will say that it’s up to the victim to stand up to the bully, but that’s much easier said then done. In many cases, it’s not one singular bully doing the attacking. It’s a group of people, many who are afraid themselves to be bullied that are involved.  Some of these students don’t stand up for themselves, for the same reason they don’t tell anyone about it. They don’t want to make things worse. So, by not telling they deal with the pain all on their own, which unfortunately brings them to the decision to commit suicide.

This must change. Teen suicide is becoming epidemic. These kids will never graduate,  go to college, get married, have kids of their own, or enjoy any other of life’s great moments. Parents are forced to bury the children and spend birthdays at gravestones leaving gifts that won’t ever be opened. Photo album pages are being drenched with tears as these parents look at pictures of their dead child  knowing there won’t be any future memories being made. No parent should have to bury their child and endure this type of pain.

Who’s to blame? It was once said that it takes a village to raise a child. It takes that same village to help protect that child. It begins with the schools. School staff needs to “nip any sort of bullying in the bud” when it comes up. It could be a simple joke at a classmates expenses that could open the floodgates, so teachers have to tell the students that this is inexcusable behavior. When it becomes apparent that a student is being bullied, the school needs to do whatever it takes to end the bullying and then go on to provide counseling for this student. Counseling can be for those being bullied, as well as the aggressor. I’ve read that some aggressors don’t even realize they are bullying whereas others are just sadistic in their actions, so this why I believe the aggressor needs to participate in some sort of counseling as well. The bully needs to come to terms with their actions to provide the effect it can have. Depending on the depth of the bullying, the school may need to displace the bully and send him/her to a new school. A school should be safe haven for students.

Should we blame the parents? In some cases, I would say the parents are somewhat responsible, but not all bullies come from an abusive home. In fact, most come from a home with two loving parents, with good jobs, as well as access to the tools to be successful. I’ve heard many parents of bullies can’t believe that their child could do such things. Is this child living a double life or is the parent blind as to what their child does? It’s what a parent does when they learn of this behavior that can effect the way this child treats people in the future. They cannot be naive. They need to take control the situation, so that no further bullying is done. These kids need to be reminded of the “golden rule”, which is:  Do not treat others in ways you would not like to be treated.  It sounds so simple and easy, but apparently it isn’t.

What about the other side of the coin? The parents of the one being abused. It just seems that no matter how close some of these kids are with their parents, they are unable to let them know of their inner turmoil, their inner pain of being victim of bullying. Some don’t want to look weak and some fear by telling a parent, they’ll then inform the school. For the gay student being bashed, it may be that his parents do not know the he/she is gay and is not ready to come out of the closet. Coming out can be life changing and it should be up to the individual when they want to come out. They shouldn’t be forced to do so because of the actions of others.

Parents have to pay attention to the child’s behavior and personality. Are they becoming withdrawn? Do they spend all their time in their room or on the computer? Do they no longer spend time with friends or go to the local mall like they used to. Talk to your kids daily about how school is going. If necessarily talk to their friends as well. You may even need to talk to their teachers and get to the bottom of these lifestyle changes. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about anything and everything.  They need to know that they can come to you, no matter what. It could be the thing that prevents them from taking their own life.

Last year, Constance McMillen, a gay student from Alabama was barred from going to her prom with a same sex date. By doing this, the school is saying that the rights of a straight student outweigh the rights of a gay student. In many states, we do not allow same sex couples to get married. Maybe we should take away their right to vote too? We as a country are leading by example and the current example is that if you are gay, you do  not matter. It’s no wonder gay teens are being bullied.

My message to any student being bullied is this. Do not be afraid to speak up. You do not have to face this alone. Just know that there have been many before you that have been bullied.  High school is just a small fraction of your life. Allow yourself to move on from this, because there is so much more to your life to live. So many goals to be accomplished. So many dreams to be realized. Life can be painful at times. I’ve dealt with my own heartbreak, my own tragedies, my own mistakes, but always knew that it would get better and it did. Don’t ever give up. Suicide should never be one of your options. Suicide is a final solution to a temporary problem. There have been too many tears shed over coffins that are too small.

Please don’t ever think that you need to kill yourself to escape your pain. Please don’t put your friends, family, and your parents through it because their pain will be everlasting when they lose you. Life will get better. You just have to give it a chance.

If you are thinking of suicide, there is help. You can call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Trevor Project, is a organization that helps gay teens and tries to prevent them from committing suicide. You can find more information at http://www.thetrevorproject.org/.

I also saw on Facebook, that on Wednesday, Oct. 20th, people are encouraged to wear purple in memory of those gay teens who have committed suicide due to abuse.

If you have any questions, comments, or even ways you think we can help with the bullying in schools, as well as suicide prevention, please comment here or email me at RyanM@hmoodle.com (Ryan Madland).

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. MLI

    November 4, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    My nephew recently passed away..

    He killed himself ..

    He was so sweet.. so loving and so very caring.. never showed a sign of depression or

    expressed any negative thoughts about anything .. WE had no clue – none – his friends -us , his family – not a single person. He was a very strong individual. Always HAPPY and always made EVERYONE ELSE HAPPY – he was a LEADER – never a follower … he was so wonderful.

    His mother and father were the most dedicated parents I have ever known…his brothers all very loving and very family oriented ..

    and so none of us can understand why he did what he did..

    I can only guess why … I heard a little bit about bullying.. that they teased him n called him *gay* …. and someone's comment was ' I guess after all these years he just couldn't deal with it anymore " – this make me SOOO ANGRY !!!!!

    HOW COULD THEY BE SO CRUEL – BEING GAY DOESNT MAKE ANYONE LESS A PERSON – now he's gone and we've lost a bright light in this world and these STUPID PEOPLE who came to his funeral or make stupid sorry comments – they could apologize all they want but it wont' bring him back.

    The pain of losing him will never heal.

    There needs to be more awareness about bullying – teasing -Homosexuality – and the results of what that will do to our young kids.

    Thank you HMOODLE for this article.

  2. Jerry

    November 11, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    I remembered during my fourth grade year I was bullied by a bunch of the "cooler" kids. I was picked on in class, on the playground, in the cafeteria, and finally during a physical education hour of kickball the kids butted in line to take my spot in skipping my turn in kicking the ball, and that was the final straw as they would put it. Enraged by all this pestering I've had enough, stood my ground and instinctively this weird burst of adrenaline kicked in as I bull rushed the smallest kid in the group sending him to the ground with myself toppling over him. All I could remember was this blurred vantage point of myself being in the crowd watching me go at it with this kid. It felt like time stood still for a few seconds with a heavy onslaught on kids chanting and yelling in the background. As long as it felt, it was mere seconds and the teachers were there to part us off one another.

    After getting sent to the principal's office and with my good track record we were both given a warning. Though I don't condone my actions and don't condone the physical harming of a fellow friend or foe; from that day on none of those kids ever picked on me again.

    Nowadays awareness of bullying is now in the forefront, news coverage recently showed a father actually stepping in to confront the bully. I say good for him! More awareness to,this is keen to having a success on dwindling down the numbers of bullys; which equates to bullys no longer tormenting kids.

    Thanks again Ryan!

  3. Kiara Clark

    November 17, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    I wore purple today because i knew how those people feel when they were bullied.I was bullyied in 5th grade because i was marked as *The New Girl* there was 4 classes i had to deal with,and they would spread rumors about me like i had fake hair and how i was a guy.I feel bad for people who were affected by bullys.These people around me just sometimes shrug it off but they never experinced the feelings i nor the other kids' feelings.I hate that people turn to suicide for their problems but if we put a stop to bullying life for victims around the world.

  4. Taylor Schelling

    November 10, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    This is a very inspiring article and I believe if more people are to do something about these types of situations suicide will lower again. People do not take bullying seriously when in fact is very serious. Especailly when people just hid the pain instead of stepping up or telling someone. I know from my past experiences how bullying feels, I have been the “new kid” in schools a couple of times. And also for other reasons. The thing is, I did step up and say something, because I do not just let people push me around. I believe more people need to be like that, they should not be afraid. I am going to do whatever I can to help this, because i’ve been through bullying and suicidal thoughts and self-injuring.

  5. anonymus

    February 13, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    all of these thingers make a lot of sence but the people who bully these kids wont stop. its what they do, probably to get away from things at home that shouldn’t be there. i know a kid who’s mom hits and the dad drinks, but they make fun of other people because thats what makes them feel better, like they’re in power and that it might get rid of the gross feeling they have inside. they wont stop unless the shit at home does…..

  6. cheri

    February 16, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    Being a LGBT student in high school is very difficult. Constantly i am being harrassed and torment by my so-called classmates. Attending what i like to call a bible-humping school (its public) i am constantly at battle with everyone. The teachers look away when acts occur and even the principle acts like nothings wrong. So me and my gf decided to do something about it. We started a pettition and then descusd with our principle about satrting a PFLAG (parents and friends of lesbians an gays) within the school after a riggorous fight with the school we got what we wanted. So now we hold meetings every wend. and talk about problems and issues that are so called steryotypes like “its a choice to be gay” or that by “touching a gay you can get it too” This is a growing problem and it has to be stopped. I am now doing my senior project about the issue and im speaking my mind to the public. I am proud to be apart of the LGBT community and there is nothing wrong with being gay :) I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. chania

    December 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    There does need to be a warning to are yound kids and what bullying can lead too! Its very sad to see people losing these very wonderful bright lights in this world!

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