Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lane Laymon, 14, Death by Suicide

I had just finished writing about Kenneth Weishuhn's suicide when I got the news about Dustin "Lane" Laymon.  And, I just broke down.  That makes 4 teen suicides since April 6th...in this country alone, and that we know of!...and, all 4 were a result of being bullied.

On Wednesday, April 11th, Lane Laymon, of Dover, Arkansas, felt he'd had enough of the bullying, so he made a suicide attempt in his school's bathroom.  On Friday, April 13th, the attempt became a success.

There is little-to-no information surrounding this event.  I do know that, according to sources, he'd been badly bullied.  It is uncertain as to why he was being bullied.  Frankly, the "why" doesn't matter.  What matters, most, is that yet another teen has been driven a point of hopelessness, a point where he felt no other way out but to end his life.  What matters, also, is that yet another teen's family and friends have to endure the nightmare of coping with the suicide death of their loved one.

To say "this has to end" has become both redundant and empty.  Empty, because we've long ago passed to point of simply talking about it:  with 4 known teen suicides from bullying in the past 10 days, it's time for real action.

How do we put those words into action to get real, tangible results?  The first and maybe not-so-simple answer is it has to, has to, has to start in the homes.  These young people would not be hurtful to others if they weren't taught that that's acceptable behavior.  A commenter to the article about Kenneth James Weishuhn wrote this:
The blame should not rest at all on the bullies in this school. They have grown up in an environment that teaches kids that being “gay” is against the bible. In such a conservative area where this idea is accepted by the vast majority of the residents, how can you blame these kids for pointing out a kid who is different.
It's not hard to figure this out:  it starts in the homes.  We're born to love; we're taught to hate.  As I've been saying, and as is pointed out in this comment, the "teachers" are the adults.  And, sadly, in far too many cases, the adults are these bullies' parents.  Human life is of much more value than religious or political beliefs.  Plain and simple.

That same commenter also had this to say:
It is absolutely absurd that you people don’t realize that this isn’t an issue for “politicians and school administrators” to solve. 
Speechless.  When you see 98% of one party's presidential candidates essentially running their campaign on their hatred for and intolerance of members of the LGBT community, when you have elected officials tirelessly attempting to pass laws that would be oppressive and very dangerous for a portion of this country's population, you have a problem that needs to be solved.  These people are dangerous on more than one level, to be sure.  Their laws, if passed, would send the message to any LGBT teen that they are, in fact, defective, perverted, and worse.  See the damage?  Their rhetoric is passed down to their followers, filters into the homes, and suddenly there's a community in Iowa or Arkansas or Anoka-Hennepin that becomes a hotbed for bullying.  And, sadly, we end up with a Justin Aaberg, a Kenneth Weishuhn and, now, a Lane Laymon.  These young people are taught to hate and be intolerant.

Real results for this very real issue?  Teach love every single day.  Teach love in your homes.  Demand acceptance from the school teachers and administrators.  Let your political and religious leaders know that human life means much more than their beliefs or teachings.  See, what's "absolutely absurd" is continuing to believe that neither group of people have anything to do with this deadly cycle of bullying and teen suicides.

There isn't one, simple, cut-and-dried solution to this, obviously.  That said, it should be clear that the time for just talking about it has come and gone.  Now, it's time to actually work towards making a change.  Change won't bring back the ones we've lost, obviously; however, I believe that we can end this vicious cycle of bully-driven teen suicides.  Whether they are gay or straight or whatever!, these teens deserve to be able to simply exist without being worried about relentlessly and, sometimes, brutally being bullied because of who they are.  If nothing else, their lives are worth our effort to at least try our hardest to make a difference.  It surely beats what's going on right now.

Our efforts won't save Lane Laymon, sadly enough.  He's now in a place where he can no longer be bullied.  It shouldn't have had to come to that.  May he rest in peace.  And, to the family and friends of Lane, may you find strength during these very difficult and trying times.

18 comments:

  1. I agree that parents need to teach their children not to bully. But before they can do that, they have to learn what bullying really is. I've heard adults saying things about other adults that, if it were a kid saying it about another kid would be considered bullying. Why is it not considered bullying when my neighbor says rude things about another neighbor? Just because said neighbor is only "expressing his opinion"? I was taught that if your opinion isn't positive, keep it to yourself. But more and more I see people in this country deliberately expressing their hatred, or least their negative opinions about others. Why? Why is it necessary to make sure the whole world knows you don't like this person or that person and why you don't like them? I may not care for the way my neighbor parks his car, but as long as it doesn't interfere with MY life, he's free to park however he wishes. I may not like the way a certain girl dresses, but as long as she's not asking me to dress in the same way, what difference does her choice of clothing make in my life? None at all! So leave her alone.

    (sorry if my thinking seems a bit muddles this morning. Learning of another suicide does that to me.)

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  2. I don't think the problem is that kids are taught that being gay is against the Bible. I think the problem is that they're taught that it's OK to treat people who engage in "sins" like crap. There is a difference. Forcing people to modify their beliefs is bullying too. Requiring them to modify their actions is not.

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    1. I agree. I know plenty of loving Christians out there. The Belief isnt the issue, the way they treat others because of it is.

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  3. Here’s a painful question that thousands of North American families ask each year: What’s the best way to mourn someone who’s committed suicide? According to a new report we found on CNN, our natural urge to mourn in public – with a large funeral service - may actually be the wrong thing to do. That’s the word from Madelyn Gould, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. She says recent studies have shown that the publicity of suicide, through candlelight vigils and large community gatherings, may result in more suicidal behavior. That’s because suicide has a tendency to be “contagious.”

    The thinking here is that if a person’s already having suicidal thoughts, and they see that someone else is getting attention for taking their own life, then that could be the trigger that inspires more suicides. Experts say adolescents and students are the most vulnerable to suicide contagion, because they tend to be more impressionable and impulsive. In fact, that may explain the so-called “suicide clusters” which happen on college campuses every few years. Just this year, there have been at least six suicides at Cornell University in New York. Psychologists believe the national publicity generated by each death may have inspired other students at the school to take their own life. That’s why psychologists are now recommending a more “muted” response to suicide. They say instead of having a large public memorial, it might be worth trying to develop a suicide prevention activity to honor that person. As an example, they point to the most recent death at Cornell. Instead of holding a large memorial, school officials there organized a student-only mental health awareness event, called “Lift Your Spirits.”

    Experts say unless someone comes along and shows students that there are other options, young adults may dwell on the idea that suicide is a way to finally get attention – even posthumously. If you want to go further, contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Their website is AFSP.org.

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  4. This is so tragic---my heart is breaking for this young man and all who have experienced blind hatred and prejudice. May he walk in the heart of the Divine.

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  5. Once again, I must express my dismay at hearing about further lives lost due to outdated, bigoted views.
    Let us not lose our focus here though - how many children have to DIE before the authorities will start imposing the severest penalties (ie: manslaughter) if someone is bullied to death? Children are DYING... And every country on this planet needs to get a clue and change everything!
    We will never be an evolved, enlightened species until we treat each other with respect and equality. Until children can grow up happy and safe.
    I do agree it starts at home.
    Usually with abusive parents, who beat on their own kids... These kids grow up thinking bullying and violence are acceptable. Their own need to feel powerful drives them to victimize the vulnerable.

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  6. This absolutely makes me ILL !! I hav a teen friend that I am pretty sure is gay but I do not and will never push the issue. He is like a brother I hav never had and he knows I am here for him, along w his parents! He has alot of great friends his age that I am close to as well so I do not think he will go this far, but..... WOW! Idiots just can't accept a person for being who they are :~{

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  7. Eloquently said, and elegiacally sad.

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  8. I am a parent, and yes my daughter is lesbian. But guess what? I accept her as a person! She is who she is and she and her partner are the only ones who need to be concerned! She is still loved by her family and has many friends. And I feel that people need to step back from what society accepts as the norm and ask ourselves what do we want and what matters to us FIRST!!!

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  9. I can say, as a person who was bullied daily from the time I was 12 until the day I graduated high school that I honestly do not believe that religion has anything to do with why kids bully one another. In my experience, and I must add that I live in the "bible belt", it was my religious peers that was always the nicest to everyone, I was not bullied for being gay, as I am not gay, but I had a gay friend that was never bullied by the religious crowd, it was always someone else. I think the attention needs to be taken away from the fact that these poor children are gay and instead needs to be turned back to the fact that there are many many many cruel people in the world that will take any small difference in a person and use that to make their life hell. I was a nerd in school and I was overweight to boot, I was teased, taunted, fliers were hung up at my school calling me a lesbian,I was spat on, pushed into lockers, and once I was tripped on my way up an aisle in class and nearly broke my arm. I constantly thought about committing suicide and I did try once but did not succeed and during the summers I would constantly diet trying to lose weight not knowing that I was overweight because I had a thyroid disorder which ,left untreated, made loosing weight impossible. I finally finished school and got away from the bullies but I can honestly say that it did leave permanent scars that I don't know if I will ever get over. It is my personal opinion that if it can be proven that a child commits suicide due to being bullied by other children then the children need to be held accountable by law. Bullying is in my opinion a hate crime and the people committing the crime need to be held accountable.

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  10. Every time I read about another teen suicide I cry. I remember my brothers. I was seven and I watched my 17 year old brother die in front of me. His name was Kyle and he was bullied for being bisexual. My other brother was bullied for being gay and he hang him self at the age of 11. His name was Andy and I was 13 when he died. This Bullying needs at stop.

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  11. We need to speak up and do something about this this is getting out of control

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  12. People who try to use the bible as a permition slip to bully make me sick! What ever happend to love thy neighbor? Or let he who is without sin cast the first stone? STOP trying to distort the bible to your twisted way of seeing things. It is up to god to pass his judgment not people! People want to call themselfs good christans for bulling are some of the most distorted people alive and they give new meaning to the term bigot. I was bullied in school and one of my children is now a victom of bulling and I vow to spend my dying breath fighting this problem.

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  13. I knew Lane.... I went to school and church with him.... Im his older brothers friend..... I was there the day it happened and I went to his funeral even.... But I can tell you this... It isnt JUST bullying, and, the bullying here in Dover isnt as bad as people have been saying.... I mean... I get bullied but whenever it happens I tell the Counsiler and it STOPS.... So :/ I dont know what else to say. Except, I miss you Lane... Everybody does....

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    1. Im an old friend of Lane's he wouldnt just up and do this. Its somthing more I know that much. I remember before I had to move away we hung out almost every weekend Lane his brother my brother and me. To say I couldnt have done anything is wrong...me and Lane were soooo close. I remember my brother went over to his house after i moved. My brother said "Lane's crazy as soon as I show up he asks about you. He wants to know when you're coming back. He says he needs you. Hi misses you...a lot. You can see it in his eyes sis you really can." That was the time I thought i was coming back to him. A time i was gonna tell him what he meant to me. He and I had a thing since we were like three. Over time it grew...how big it grew i would say damn near close to love. Say what you will but Lane isnt dead to me he lives in me. But i miss him like hell...then again who dosent?

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    2. Wow. That's heartbreaking. I'm sure that this is hard on you, as well. I hope you're doing well.

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  14. i don't know what happened, how they feel, even I don't know what to do? Just want say, STOP I can't hear any more, I can't see innocence death. It's totally intolerable.

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  15. Dustin "lane" Layamon was my best friend and you're absolutely correct about it being in homes as well as school. Lane never had it easy and I wish I was there for him that day but the high school and middle school is separated. Lane was a nice young man and may he rest in peace :*(

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