As I sit here in the quiet of my home I am overcome with a sadness that leaves me full of questions and absolutely no answers. I awoke the other morning like every other morning and within a few short moments life took a dramatic turn. Reports of sadness and grief began to flood emails and social media posts indicating that something had happened to a student at our local high school. As I began to piece the puzzle together I discovered that a 17 year old high school student took his own life the day before. Word of his passing quickly ripped through our community along with evidence that he had been a victim of bullying.
According to the many comments I read online this boy had been bullied for quite some time. At the end of the day in the solitude of my bedroom and the quietness of my heart I wept for this boy, his family and for all that this world had lost due to the cruelty of bullying. Words killed this boy. Mean cruel hateful words haunted him leaving him with the idea that ending his life would finally end the torture he had been enduring and give him peace. Unfortunately, the torture remains for those he left behind whose minds are full of questions and hearts full of grief that will never go away.
Some have indicated that this young man had suffered from a form of autism (a fact that I cannot prove) and was bullied because of it. Whether or not he had autism, he did not deserve to be bullied. No one deserves to be bullied. The idea that just because someone is “different” they are fair game to be ridiculed, picked on and humiliated is unacceptable and I believe should be criminally punished. Because of this parents’ lost their son, a sister lost her brother, grandparents lost a grandson and friends lost a friend and this bright young man who played the tuba in the high school band lost his opportunity to grow up and experience life as he was supposed to. The hopelessness he felt was so overwhelming that he chose to take the hurt away the only way he thought he could.
Searching the web for other cases of bullying and teen suicide it became quickly apparent that bullying is in epidemic form in our country. In Texas just last week high school freshman Teddy Molina made the decision to take his own life after being bullied by a group known as the “wolf pack” because he was of a mixed race. In Mentor, Ohio a 17 year old Eric Mohat, had endured severe bullying being called names such as “fag” “homo” and “queer” often in front of teachers who did absolutely nothing. Who allows this type of behavior to go on and not do anything about it? Mohat’s parents have filed a lawsuit against the school system citing failure to protect their son and have dubbed his death a “bullicide” Case after case of teen suicide indicates bullying as the main cause.
The Ohio case hits “close to home” for me because my own daughter has suffered from those same hateful words as a gay teen. Discussing this case with her she shared with me that gay teens are seven times more likely to commit suicide than other young people; a statistic that blows my mind and breaks my heart. As a parent it is our job to ensure our children’s safety, but it is also the school’s job to ensure that same safety for everyone at school; not just specific kids. Programs need to be implemented to protect ALL students from bullying which should include severe consequences for those who commit the crime of bullying.
We must begin to recognize bullying for what it is and work toward ending it for good. Lives are being taken away because of senseless, hateful words being thrown at those who are deemed “different” like daggers by those who think bullying is cool and acceptable. Enough is enough. In the words of my momma from so very long ago “if you can’t say anything nice, do not say anything at all” a motto that I believe we all should follow.