Monday, April 9, 2012

More on Kenny Wolf

Every teen suicide is hard to take.  Each time I write about another one, it takes another piece of my own soul.  And, there are some that I take very, very hard.  Jamie Hubley, for example, hit me like the ton of bricks.  To be sure, it was his suicide in October that led me to embark upon this campaign to make a change.  Kenny Wolf's recent suicide hit me as hard, if not harder.  He was right here in my back yard, right there from my old neighborhood.  I know it's counterproductive to blame myself at all, but I can't help but wonder...with me doing this right here in Maryland, why wasn't this blog or the facebook blog page reaching him?  And, if it was, what could I have done differently with it to prevent this from happening?

Second-guessing aside, I have some vital updates about Kenny.  Firstly, all reports of age were wrong:  Kenny wasn't 17, as originally reported, nor even 16 as it was later reported.  Kenny was just 14 years old.  Secondly, his event wasn't Thursday, the 5th.  It happened Friday, the 6th.  Thirdly, I have a link for those who would like to leave their personal condolences for the family and friends.  It goes without saying that this is an extraordinarily tough period for Kenny's family and friends.  Indeed, for the entire community.  Letting them know that there are those of us around the world who are mourning Kenny right along with them will, I'm sure, help with their healing process.

Lastly, I can't stress enough that if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, or any mental issues, bullying, and/or suicidal ideations, please, please, please reach out!!  There are many people, professional and non-professional alike, ready to reach back.

Suicide Support

STOP Teenage Suicide

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


With this tragic event being right here in my backyard, I'm redoubling my efforts to reach out and bring this epidemic to an abrupt end.  Sadly, of course, it's not going to bring Kenny back.  Or, any of the other teens who ended their lives far too soon.  But, it will, hopefully, prevent another family from having to go through what Kenny's is going through right now.  That's my promise.

Reaching Out: Let John Tillman Know He's Not Alone

This video was posted on the wall in Brett's community.  He sent me a message asking if I'd watched it yet, that it was really sad.  I assured him that my "really sad" cup was on overflow for the moment, that I would check it out "tomorrow".  Then, of course, I thought better and watched it right then.  He was right.  It's sad.  It's heartbreaking.  It's maddening.

John Tillman is an openly gay 17-year-old.  The video, done in "written message" style a la Jonah Mowry from December, tells of his being constantly bullied and recently jumped all because of his sexual orientation.  He's scared.  He's confused.  It's sad that he's having to go through this type of torture just because of who he is.

It's really heartbreaking that LGBT teens today still have to endure such excruciating pain at the hands of their unaccepting, intolerant peers.  It's more than heartbreaking:  it's alarming that so many LGBT teens are routinely pushed to the brink, to a point where they feel the only way out is to harm themselves.  And, it's heartbreaking because all these young people want is the same opportunity as their straight peers to just be happy teens, to just be able to be themselves without having to worry about being constantly attacked, verbally, emotionally, and, in cases like John's physically.  Straight or LGBT, the teen years can be tumultuous enough without the presentiment of being attacked simply because you exist.

What is maddening about this is that a John Tillman even has to make a videoed cry-for-help at all!  Why aren't there more people speaking up and demanding that school officials and administrations take this issue far more seriously and protect all of their students rather than just the ones they choose to protect.  Why aren't there more voices screaming at the top of their lungs to the politicians who hate that their politics do not hold more importance than these young people's lives!? 

Look, this isn't rocket science.  These young people who do the bullying are learning the hatred and intolerance from bigoted, mean-spirited politicians, religious leaders, school officials, and sometimes even parents.  They are learning from their cue that treating people who aren't just like them, who don't think like them or act the way they think they should be acting with hostility is acceptable and even expected behavior.  They are taking their hatred and bigotry with them to school and passing their lessons learned onto anyone who is perceived to be different, especially LGBT teens.  Conversely, there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of LGBT teens who hear these words of hatred spewed from their mouths and, each time they hear it, they're pushed closer to the brink.  Their self-esteem gets shattered by their words.  Their sense of self-worth takes another beating each time they hear, or read about, one of these people consumed with fear and intolerance spewing their hate-filled rhetoric.

The only way videos like John Tillman's will stop having the need to be made is for more and more people to start speaking up and letting the world know that this is no longer acceptable behavior.  It's not acceptable that so many teens, LGBT and straight, are pressed to a point where they feel that ending their lives is the only way out.  It's not going to change or end by itself. 

Make sure John Tillman knows that he is not alone and that he is loved.  He really needs the reassurance.