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'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.