It absolutely breaks my heart to hear about each new teenager to take his life after being incessantly bullied by his classmates... and for what... just being gay. While it’s reassuring to see that a few states are taking a stand against bullying by enacting laws such as New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act and California’s Seth’s Law, but I think we also need to stop putting so much media attention on these suicides. I worry that all of this constant coverage is giving other teens who suffer from bullying the idea that taking their own lives is a way out. These kids need to understand that killing yourself is NOT an option. Bullying needs to stop, but suicides need to stop more.
I know how hard it can be for these kids because I was also bullied in school... but I was strong enough to get through it and I trusted it would get better. I can’t stress enough that having an outlet and someone you can share your struggles with is one of the most important things you can do to overcome something like this.
Several years ago, I was asked to return to my high school and give a commencement speech. I admitted to the students that I had dealt with difficulties in school—I didn’t say “bullying,” but in hindsight, I wish I did... I explained that ultimately whether you end up first in your class or 300th, graduating from high school wipes the slate clean. From then on, you can make your own decisions and choose to live however you’d like. It’s a fresh start.
For help with bullying, go to pacer.org. LGBT teens (or those questioning their sexuality) can visit thetrevorproject.org or call 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386).