“This needs to be a wake up call that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country and the death rate is climbing. One life lost in a senseless way is tragic, four lives lost is a crisis.” –Ellen DeGeneres
I’m not sure when it started for you, but it started for me around this time last year when I heard about a boy named Billy Lucas from my home-state of Indiana (his town was Greensberg, mine is Evansville.) who committed suicide because of bullying. Then, shortly there after, the Tyler Clementi story emerged, about a boy from Rutgers University who took his own life because of bullying. Then another story, and another story, and another. The latest, tragic, death by bullying is from a young boy named Jamey Rodemeyer.
This leads me to ask, when will this stop? When will these stories, these incidents, these deaths, be viewed as not coincidental, but because of a hate crime that occurs daily — bullying.
I’m not sure how many of you have kept up, or even read, the stories about suicides caused by bullying, but it’s something that always pulls my heartstrings.. Recently, upon hearing about the death of Jamey, I was just so disturbed and upset that such a young boy, with so much to offer the world, would be tormented so much to take his own life. There are reports that the ones who bullied him told him he should end his own life… and he did. Can you imagine? Children telling your child, your friend, your brother/sister, or even you, that the world would be better without you? What kind of child, what kind of mind or heart (or lack there of), would a person have to have — a child, no less — to tell another child such things?
Then, to add salt to an open wound, Jamey’s sister was at a homecoming dance recently. No doubt, she was trying to escape the reality she has had to face lately of her younger brother’s demise, and trying to enjoy her night, when those who bullied her younger brother started yelling and chanting at her that they were glad he’s dead, and he’s better off that way…
Now, tell me, how is this okay? How is this right? Legal? How is this justified?
Are we really that naive? Are we really that blind? The other day on Twitter, under United States trending topic came the topic “
#puttwowordstogethermakeaninsult” came right above “BULLYING HURTS.” Ironic, or perhaps a beautiful coincident that can speak for itself.
Be it on the rise of social media, be it blamed on the internet, or now media just may be paying attention to it, but think of all the bullying-related deaths you’ve heard about within the last year. I’m sure you don’t have a number, but I’d be willing to bet that it’s more deaths than can fit on your hand.
Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death in young people/adults?
Did you know those who are bullying are two to NINE more times likely to commit suicide than those who weren’t?
Did you know, that according to a study done in Britain, that half of suicides are directly related to Bullying?
Did you know that children as young as 10-years-old have been known to commit suicide due to Bullying?
Did you know that, according to ABC News, about 160,000 children stay home from school daily due to their fear of bullies/being bullied?
Now, think for a minute. Were you bullied? Did people ever taunt or make fun of you? Did you ever bully others? Did you ever make fun of someone just because they were “different” or, for whatever reason, you disliked them?
Did you ever hear the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me?” Well, my friends, those days are over. Because it is proven repeatedly that words cut like ice, deep down, and puncture our souls and make us bleed. Think of a time someone has said something hurtful to you, hurt your feelings, and how upset you were. Imagine being repeatedly told those things on a daily basis. Imagine having no safe-haven, no place to run, no place to be okay, no place to simply be.
How many deaths will it take for us to start paying attention? For us to realize that this is NOT okay? For us to realize that BULLYING MUST BE STOPPED.
With the help of being alert for suicide warning signs, signs of bullying (in ALL forms), as well as taking advice and spreading the news from the It Gets Better Campaign, Give A Damn Campaign, NOH8 Campaign, the Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, and with movements like The Trevor Project and Make A Law For Jamey, as well as other forms of support and help it is obvious that there is a large community against these injustices and is seeking for something to be done. With their help, and with yours, bullying can come to an end. But it cannot be done without government regulations ensuring that bullying is, in fact, made a hate crime and a violation of our civil rights. Discrimination is illegal in all forms.
I did some very minor research and found a few names of children spanning from the US, to Canada, to the UK who committed suicide because of bullying. This post, is dedicated to them, and all those others whose names are unknown. And here’s to hope that one day, and some day soon, names will no longer have to be added to this list because bullying will be stopped.
Ryan Patrick Halligan
Nicola Ann Raphael
Megan Taylor Meier
Sources, or sites/articles you may be interested in reviewing…