Monday, April 16, 2012

Kenneth James Weishuhn, 14: Death by Suicide in Iowa

Last night, Saturday, April 14th, 14-year-old Kenneth James Weishuhn, of Primghar, Iowa, succumbed to the bullying he'd been receiving since coming out as an LGBT teen back in a couple short months ago.  In looking at the few pictures of Kenneth I've been able to see online, he was a very happy young man.  Handsome and full of life.  In talking to some of his friends and family tonight, they confirmed just that.  More than that, though, they expressed how much he was loved by them.

Unfortunately, coming out of the closet cost him his young life.  The bullying was relentless and severe to the point where he couldn't take it any longer.  No one, and I mean no one should have to sacrifice their life simply because of who they are.  Yet, we're seeing it happen over and over and over again.  The question that's begging to be answered is "how many more teen suicides do we have to endure before everybody realizes that we have an enormous problem on our hands?"  How many more parents have to endure the pain of having to bury their teenaged child because he or she were bullied to break point before the politicians, school administrators, religious leaders become proactive and stop treating this as a mere annoyance?  The people I talked to tonight are in real pain.   Some were crying real tears.  This is a very real problem, one that needs a very real solution.  And, the attention given to it needs to be immediate.

It's not enough to say "the ones who bullied him to a point where he took his life will have to live with that for the rest of their lives."  That's true.  However, there's two problems with that:  1.) if they were cold-hearted enough to do this in the first place, chances are they're not going to lose much sleep over the fact that their actions caused someone to end their life; and, 2.) the families and friends of the victim also has to live with the bully's actions for rest of their lives.  And, that's unacceptable.

Two of Kenneth's friends, Kristi and Brandi, made a youtube video in tribute to their gone-too-soon friend.  It moved me to tears.  He truly seemed to be a very happy teen, and the love he had surrounding him was apparent.  Unfortunately, however, it wasn't enough to overcome the brutal bullying he had to endure.

We can no longer afford to wait for our "leaders" to come to a solution with this issue.  Too many lives are being lost.  I've written about 3 in the past 9 days!  And, believe this:  for the three I've written about, there are at least three more somewhere around the world that I don't know about.  Yet, our leaders are treating a 5-alarm blaze like a brush fire.  It's time...it's past time!!!...for every concerned citizen, young or old, black or white, gay or straight, Christian or atheist to do their part in bringing this sad chapter to an abrupt end. 
  • Let the politicians know that it's not okay that they are putting their political/religious views before these young people's lives;
  • Let the hateful "religious leaders" know that it is not acceptable that they spew utter hatred in towards members of the LGBT community God's name.  Hate speech is NOT freedom of speech;
  • Let the school administrators know that it's not acceptable that the bullying epidemic runs rampant in today's school, that they are required to protect every single student in their charge, all-inclusive;
  • Let the young people in your lives, directly or indirectly, know that it's okay to let someone know when they're being bullied.  In fact, it's expected of them.  If one person doesn't listen, go to another.  Repeat that process until they find someone who will listen and take action.
It's going to take every single one of us, the everyday Joe, the concerned citizen, to bring about the changes that will rid our society once and for all of the bullying and teen suicides.  Sadly, all of our efforts won't bring back Kenneth James Weishuhn.  We lost him last night because someone felt it was okay to bully him until he broke.  It wasn't okay.

There's a facebook page in Kenneth's memory.  Take the time out to express your condolences and thoughts.  Also, I've been told that there is a fund set up to help his family bury him.  As soon as I have a link for that, I will pass it along. 

I can't express enough to the family and friends of Kenneth how sorry I am for your loss.  I can only say that my heart goes out to you.  To you, Kenneth James Weishuhn, rest in peace.  They can't hurt you now.

37 comments:

  1. There are never words to express the heartache I feel each time another person is lost to suicide. The bullying MUST end!

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    1. My sentiments exactly!!

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    2. kenn u will be missed

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  2. HOW MANY MORE KIDS MUST SUFFER BEFORE HOMOPHOBIC ASSHOLES KNOW THAT ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?

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    1. when we start fighting back in the name of our freedom

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  3. as i read your sad words i had the feeling that along with our youth that is being lost so our values have gone. my deepest sympathy for the family and friends of kenneth i know he will truely be missed. you spoke of politicians, the only way to change their minds is to chane our strategy, it takes a whole community to raise a child (good or bad) so start at home please don't let your tired ways direct your children soften your heart and, as jesus said do unto others as you would have done onto you. i'm nobody special myself but i know how i would like to be treated, and i know what bullying feels like. lets all love our children all of them.

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  4. I'm getting sick and tired of hearing about this. Time we starting kicking arse instead of begging and crying. You can NOT reason with bullies; they only understand one thing. It may not be the popular PC thing to say, but it's better than killing yourself. My situation was different. I was isolated and abused as a child and a teen. I developed PTSD and it got worse and I have DID today. I wish I could have beaten the shite out of the people who hurt me. Fight against these bloody bastards!

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    1. I know what you mean Lyuba. AS a result of that and horrible parental abuse, i also got PTSD. Bullies should be fought and VANQUISHED

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  5. On the wings of angels...

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  6. So very sad that he felt that he had no other options but to take his life. I feel sorry for his family. I blame parents and school officials when children are bullied. More needs to be done. What a sad sad day.

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  7. It is a very sad ordeal though we as parents need to be the ones to step up, teach our children what is right and wrong. Manners have gone by the way side and they need to be brought back into this generation. "If you can not say anything nice do not say anything at all." Where were the parents of the children who were harming this boy? Why didn't they know what was going on and put a stop to this children's harassing? Parents need to be more involved in their teens life more so than when they are younger to help prevent this. It's not put on the shoulders of politicians or school educators; yes they should monitor and stop the bulling though it needs to start with the parents, the ones who influence their children the most.

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  8. This just breaks my heart. My daugther is also a singer/songwriter and is in the process of recording a song she wrote dealing with suicide. A local video producer is helping us to make a video. This has to stop. If the schools can't do it, the community needs to. Please email me at bandmom@sydneylett.com if you would like the song. We need to get people to realize how much of a problem this is. RIP Kenneth. Your pain is gone now. Dance with the angels.

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  9. it is just sick that people bully people for being gay its just fucked up he was an amazing person and i will always miss him he was the best person ever we love you Kenneth rest in piece<3

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  10. It's time to start bullying the bullies

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    1. What makes that right? We want to END bullying in all directions!

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    2. Does that make you better then the bullies?

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  11. You make some excellent points and I agree with doing away with all the hatred and intolerance. People seem to feel they know the “right” way to live as if there is only “one” way. There’s one of the biggest problems. I know I will hear from Christians on this (I’m one too) but I see too many people using religion as a pulpit to spew hatred. Is that what Jesus did? No. He even asked for God to have mercy on those who were beating, torturing and murdering him right up to the moment he died.

    Further, in the name of proclaiming the proper way to live (and no this is not just Christians and I’m certainly not lumping Christians in one group) people push their views on morality on others in more and more aggressive and even violent (verbal and/or physical) ways. Treating other people with disrespect is becoming a “norm” it truly is. Some of the reason for that is even many adults do not understand that violence can also include verbal. Turn on any television channel and you will see it – any. Sports, news, sitcoms (including kid’s shows), reality shows, political, you name it. The channels that are often the worst for kids are actually made for kids and families (Disney, Nickelodeon and ABC family). Almost all of them use the popular trend of using sarcasm, disrespect and aggression (verbal or physical) to solve problems. We also have another issue of kids being exposed to things their developing minds are just not ready to understand. Elementary kids, as young as kindergarten, tell me on a regular basis that R rated movies are ok for “them” to watch because they don’t get scared or they can “handle” it. Their minds are not ready to truly understand much of what they see and anyone who thinks young kids can handle this are either delusional or just doesn’t care.

    If you want to cure bullying, don’t just look to the politicians and schools to pass some new laws and rules and think that will fix it. I agree when the problem is known it has to be dealt with – that’s a no-brainer. But if we truly want to” fix” the problem of bullying, we as a society have to fix the bigger picture. As the sayings go, it starts at the top and it starts at home. Our leaders have to set a good example and act civilized, we should be careful what we put in front of our youth, and most importantly we need to model for our children respect and tolerance. When they are exposed to examples of disrespect and intolerance we should talk about it with them and help them understand what they have heard or seen. Basically, we need to look in the mirror and as Gandhi said, “Be the Change in the World you wish to see.” As far as meeting violence with violence? A very wise man once said, “Violence only begets violence. Hate begets hate.” Just what is it you are trying to end with violence?

    A few thousand years ago a man was locked up and scheduled to be put to death because it was felt he was corrupting the youth of society. His offending actions were basically that he was leading youth to question information that is just passed on as “facts.” He wanted them to look further at things being taught to them and actively question it from all angles and make their own decisions about much of what they learn. Today that is called the “Socratic method” and is accepted as a viable teaching method. If we did the same thing today that the Greeks did with Socrates, who would be charged with corrupting the youth of today? Videogame makers? Filmmakers? Singers? Teachers? School Administrators? Politicians? Parents? Who is responsible?

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  12. I love and miss you Kenneth </3

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  13. Kenneth was such a loving person and without him being here we have all experienced the pain he went through by having to go through this ourselves wishing there was something we could have done to stop this terrible act. We who knew Kenneth knew he was one of the best friends you could ever have. He was more then just a person..he was a voice. I hate to say this, but it only takes one person to make a difference and by all of us standing up for him this is his way of making a difference. The youtube video that was made is going to be played at Spencer Middle School tomorrow during our language arts period because of young woman and men who posted on facebook and sent a mass forward about wearing pink in support of Kenneth James Weishuhn. Bullying is wrong. Yes, we all here that over and over again, but that needs to change. Teachers see bullying all the time in schools and some speak up yet others don't, how is that right for the living of teens? It happens outside of school too. I see it on facebook all of the time and i stand up for those people. Kenneth is very missed and will be very missed for the rest of his life. He still had plenty of years ahead of him, but because he told people about who he really was bully's made him comit suicide. Rest in peace.<3 We love you Kenneth. Made by Mercedez Siela.<3

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  14. Ron
    Here is the headline an hour ago in Kenneth's hometown
    http://www.topix.com/city/primghar-ia/2012/04/14-year-old-lgbt-teen-bullied-to-death
    and from CNN
    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-776747?ref=feeds%2Flatest

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  15. Hasn’t bullying has been around forever? Many of our parents and grandparents witnessed the same issues. Now with all the instant access to technology.. the problem seems to become more evident. People are not really wired to take in all this information and process it properly. This is a generation of instant gratification. I really don’t need to know what everyone thought of the outfit I wore to school today, but if I have twitter/Facebook.. I end up knowing anyway?

    I have heard several people refer to parents as being the cure. I would have to agree. Nobody cares or understands their children better than their parents .It seems parents put way too much on the backs of the public schools to raise their kids properly. You have to assume teachers/staff fight bullying when they see it occur. When a parent feels the school is not living up to their expectations they would be responsible to make that adjustment to benefit the child’s situation.

    I would also like to mention another issue.. I seen this link http://danielnatt.wordpress.com/category/lgbt/ Imagine a struggling young person finding this blog on the internet. I can see a teen easily misunderstanding this as some sort of option to support the bullying issue? It is almost like a list of war vets who died for their country?? Not really a good message to send a teen struggling. This message is close.. if not as bad as the person doing the bullying?

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  16. Wonder what would happen if our schools made the bullies wear uniforms to school so they were different than everyone else? Just a thought.I bet the bullies parents would see that as wrong and do whatever they could do to change what was going on.Sad isn't it that our society would protect a bully with laws but not a victim?

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    1. I agree 100% with you. Or how about when the bully gets introuble..the parents too have community service...UNREAL

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  17. Ken ill miss you, You were like my other Brother.. Love You Bud R.I.P

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  18. Bless this young man's heart and bless you too, Ron, for telling his story.

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  19. These stories make me cry! I'll admit it!....Real tears!

    I'm a straight senior citizen who's been gay friendly since I've known what "gay" was! I'm sorry, but I don't HAVE any answer for this. No, it's not just a "gay issue." Think of all the "skinny runts" the "fatsos" the "nerds" that poor kid in a wheelchair/on crutches. Yes, we ALL suffer. Yet, it seems the gay community gets the unproportionately large share of this.

    Please posters, allow me to address the SCHOOL BOARDS here. If I were a teen today I'd like to know why I'd be suspended for wearing a "Gay is OK" t-shirt, yet when I bully an innocent kid to commit suicide, nothing happens to me. "Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." (Mark Twain) Any answers? Quit hiding in your offices! Step out here in front of the cameras/microphones and start answering our civilized questions! Are you afraid of being "bullied"? Are you afraid of looking stupid or "nerdy"? Come on school board members! Pull you heads out of the clouds, the sand (and that part in between!) Show us how "tough" and "right" you really are!

    I truly believe this action would prove more useful than, it's the "____'s" fault! Let's demand answers! No falling for that "We're investigating the situation," "We're reviewing this," or "We'll get back to you on this." They don't! They run and hide, hoping everything will "blow over." We have to keep after them....constantly!....For YEARS if necessary. Keep after them until they "show" and start answering questions!

    Posters: Put out the school's website! Let's fill their "In Box" with questions we want answered. Be polite. Ask civilized questions. Questions you KNOW they're afraid to answer!

    "First God created idiots....This was for practice....Then He created school boards." (Mark Twain)

    "If Jesus were to ever return to this earth, there is one thing he wouldn't be, a Christian." (Mark Twain)

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  20. Study shows that those who bully are afraid of their own feelings

    http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/878915/are_homophobes_just_repressing_their_homosexual_desires_new_study_says_yes/

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  21. This is extremely sad. I too, just recently lived through in March, where my 17 year old nephew committed suicide. Just 3 weeks short of his 18th birthday. All though he was not gay, he felt at times he was not excepted by peers, due to his old fashion beliefs. He believed in America, believed in everything American. He had a voice that commanded attention. And behind his laughter and making everyone else laugh and making sure everyone else was happy, was pain. That we did not see. He was extremly popular where everyone knew him. Had he lived when JFK was running for president, I believe my nephew would have won. He had a bright future and really enjoyed life. But like everyone, not everyone likes or appreciates everybody. He was teased and people did call him the "f" word....Fag...I believe who ever came up with the saying...sticks and stones may break my bones but names would never hurt me...was WRONG!!! You are right..how many children need to thing their life is not worth living because they can not be who they truly are. It is wrong...and as for the bullies...they see how there parents are...so when a bully gets introuble..I think the parents, too should do some type of community service...It is totally wrong....My heart breaks and goes out to this family who had to loose their pride and joy...God Bless to All...and Yes STOP the BULLYING

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  22. this is the 3rd or 4th gay teen suicide ive read about. its not easy coming out, i know i came out when i was 20 but i was really lucky. mostly people accepted me and were really supportive and understood what i had been through to get to that point in my life. i also understand what it is like to feel absolute worthlessness. that your life wont get any better and that theres no way out only to leave the planet in your own way so that no more pain befalls you. ive been to that dark place many times but each time friends and family threw me the life line and gave me the grace to see what was good in life.it really hurts me when teenagers commit suicide not just for gay bullying but for bullying in general. i didnt wake up and think you know what i think ill be gay today, what a marvellous idea that is. ill be gay and get loads of abuse from people and telling me how wrong i am. i am who i am and thats it. my heart goes out to every person young and old that is suffering from bullying.

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  23. I didn't really know Kenneth but this is just upsetting and I litterly cried my eyes out! It's just sad that he couldn't be himself! I mean it was his life and his choice to be gay and the ppl that Are not gay get to choose not to be cause its their life so why be mean and bully someone for being different and themselves? Anyway I just pray for Kenneths friends and family RIP.

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  24. WHEN IS THIS CRAP GOING TO END???? WTF IS WRONG W/ PEOPLE???? if someone is gay, then they're gay, how does it affect anyone else??? it's their life to live & it's NONE of anyone's business!!!! for a$$holes to torture someone over something they had no choice in is absolutely revolting & it's time to put an end to it! my heart breaks for this poor boy's family & for EVERYONE IN THE WORLD because he is gone & there is no way for him to change the world w/ his LIFE... this beautiful child w/ the beautiful smile is no longer with us & his death is a senseless tragedy*... he could've invented the cure for cancer... or maybe even the cure for stupidity which could've saved his hometown (which is obviously so desperately needed) & even the world (which is obviously so desperately needed)! i HOPE that everyone involved in his torture, who made him commit suicide, are all prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by charging them w/ EVERYTHING they're responsible for, INCLUDING MURDER!!!!! THEY SHOULD ALL BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES FOR THIS SENSELESS TRAGEDY & BE MADE TO PAY FOR HIS DEATH!!!

    TO EVERYONE INVOLVED IN HIS TORTURE & THE TORTURE OF OTHERS FOR WHATEVER REASON: THERE'S ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE FOR STUPIDITY... GROW UP, PEOPLE!!! IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW, THEN TAKE A CUE FROM TODDLERS!!!! THIS IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE!!!

    *i have lit a candle on my porch in his honor & the picture is being posted on & was asked for by Support Gay Marriage Across America on FaceBook & am also wearing pink in his honor as was asked for by his FaceBook page Remembering Kenneth James Weishuhn. although i didn't know him personally, my heart is broken just the same.

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  25. Oh Kenneth, I may not know you but I do know you are a brave, wonderful and a loved person by everyone... You are so brave to tell the world you are gay, but you are not alone, I know how it feels because my mother is gay and I get judged for it...but honestly if you have positive friends and family, you can conquer anything... I send all my condolences to Kenneth's family. And Kenneth if you are reading this in Heaven then I would like to tell you I love you with all my heart, and I am truly sorry for the people who have bullied you because they feel they have to bully such a wonderful young man to make themselves feel

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  26. This is a senseless tragedy.

    I want to say, that for the most part kids & teens learn from their parents actions. I'm sure most parents don't blatantly tell their children "That kid is gay? Go make fun of them until they just can't take it anymore".

    I've learned that everyday, ordinary people harass and bully people - and the problem is more widespread than anyone can even comprehend - kids SEE this and do the same.

    What do I mean? What I'm about to write has nothing to do with sexual orientation but it is food for thought. I'm a 42 year old female who has been harassed in my workplace by grown women- who, from all outward appearances would seem like level headed, intelligent, caring, concerned parents and wives. These women would outwardly show all the pillars of good character.

    I can handle myself. In fact, when management informed me there was really nothing they could do to "babysit" - I had no problem throwing their ugliness right back at them and they do not tangle with me.

    There are other women, who do not have the ability to stand up for themselves - another one even quit last week.

    This campaign to stop bullying has to start from the ground up - there has to be a resource where people that are being harassed and bullied can go to find a bigger voice. This is not just kids being kids. This is kids modeling the same behavior they see in their home.

    The only reason I'm writing this is because even before I read this post, for the last few days I've pondered bullying and how much worse it is if even seemingly everyday people are doing it with vengeance. If you'd like to think that my one little department is just a fluke, then I'm telling you that you are wrong.

    It saddens me that these teens feel that they have no where to turn, and that they are so ashamed, feel so helpless that they give up. It breaks my heart.

    There has to be a safe house, an organization that they can go to - someone to have a bigger voice and to spotlight the WRONG of assassinating another BEING just for being what they perceive as "different". I'm at a loss for words. I'm sorry if this doesn't make sense. I truly do not know how to round up my point but bullying starts in the home. In your everyday average household. If we can nip it there we might have a chance.

    I'm so saddened and sorry for this loss of life.

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  27. Damn bastards are about one day they will pay ... To them all my hatred of the WORLD !!! From: kennedy russani

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  28. I, a 16 year old lesbian, am doing a news story on teen bullying in our school newspaper... Bullying is huge in our school.

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