Monday, September 3, 2012

On The Move

I started this blog last year in the wake of a teen suicide that rocked me to the core.  I could never explain why it shook me so profoundly.  Still can't.  Since the inception of Enough is Enough, many changes have occurred.  Yet, some things have remained the same.  Life's kinda like that.

What has remained the same is my commitment to, through my writing, be a part of the effort to a.) bring awareness to the bullying situation in an effort to end the level of bullying we're seeing in schools and on the Internet today; and, b.) do whatever I can in my power to raise awareness to the amount of teen suicides, both straight and LGBT teens, so that families around the country and around the world can stop living the nightmare of losing their child to suicide.  In fact, that commitment has led to things I never saw coming.

  • The readership of this blog skyrocketed to levels I never would've imagined!  It now has several thousand followers, has been reprinted in several different online publications, and has been read hundreds of thousands of times.  I never saw that coming.
  • It has evolved into a facebook blog page that currently has over 16,000 members and steadily growing, reaching as many as 1.8 million people.
  • Sadly, it has taught me that the problem we're facing is far deeper, much more pervasive than I EVER would've imagined...proving that there's much, much more dedication and hard work needed if we're to see the type of change that's needed.
Enough is Enough has been running, simultaneously, on two different blog formats for the past year:  here, on blogspot; and, on Wordpress.  Since I'm in this for life, I wanted to take a year or so and compare the two to find out which one offered the best options to make things easier for you, the readers.  The verdict is in.  


What does that mean to you, the 767 loyal followers of the blogspot version of this blog?  Well, most importantly, it means that now the blog is more easily accessible, easier for you to comment, easier to read and share.  Over the past year, several of you had contacted me and urged me to move from the blogspot format because of the inaccessibility.  Done.  Also, what it means is that you have to now follow me on Wordpress as opposed to blogspot.  That process is as easy as clicking this link and clicking the +follow tab on the Wordpress version of this same blog.  

My goal is to a.) make the switch as effortless for you, my readers, as possible; and, b.) to retain all 767 of you on the new location of the blog.  We're barely two weeks into the new school year, and there's already been 4 teen suicides.  We have lots of work to do!  See you at the new location!!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Noah Grawemeyer, 12, Bullying Leads to Suicide Death

It's August 24, 2012.  The new school year is just barely underway, and here we are:  already saying goodbye to the second known student lost to suicide so far this school year.  Noah Grawemeyer was only 12 years old.  He had just started seventh grade at Hazelwood Middle School in New Albany, Indiana.  According to his mother, he didn't want to go to school Monday:
“He was sick to his stomach, and he just was so upset when I talked to him and crying that he didn't want to go to school, and I didn't understand why he was crying not to..."
Police in New Albany are investigating whether or not there was bullying involved.  Same ol', same ol'.  Undoubtedly, their conclusion will be one that we've heard many, many, too many times before:  "Our investigation has concluded that bullying was not an issue... ."  And, that leaves Noah's distraught family and friends in anguish.  I'm certain that, on a core level, whether or not he was pushed to suicide due to bullying pales, by comparison, to the fact that he's gone.  Rightly so.  No parent or family member should ever have to go through the debilitating loss of a child to suicide.

On the other side of the coin, it is August 2012.  I refuse to believe that there's a single person alive today, and of reasonable intelligence, who doesn't know that there's an enormous problem today with bullying and teen suicides.  There's literally no place in the media a person can go and not hear stories of bullying and of teen suicides.  It's in the newspapers for people who still read them; it's on the news channels and talk shows for those who watch television; it's on the Internet for those who spend most of their time there.  It's an unavoidable issue.  The stories are there.  The faces are there.  The broken families are there.  The lawmakers are there vowing new legislation.  So, with all of this in place, how is it that we're barely into the new school year and, already!, we're facing teen suicides due to bullying?  Where is the ball being dropped?  And, make no mistake:  the ball is clearly being dropped.  Do we wait until this affects us directly before we get involved?  Do we continue to not educate our own young ones about the value of acceptance until we're face-to-face with the horror of the loss of our own child or teenager due to bullying and suicide?  Do we continue to make our posters - "No More Bullying!!!"; "Bullying Stops Here!!" - march them around town while we wait for someone else to roll up their sleeves and get busy working for a solution?  Or, do we look at this as what it is:  a scourge in our society; an epidemic that is claiming many lives year after year; something that is totally controllable and avoidable?  Once enough people begin to look at this for what it really is and feel in their heart that it has to stop before one more family has to go through what the Grawemeyers are currently going through, we'll start seeing real changes.

There are resources available, numbers that can be called, websites, and help pages.

Enough is Enough: the blog page

National Suicide Lifeline

The Trevor Project


Suicide Prevention Information

There's been a facebook page set up in Noah's memory.  You can go there and give your condolences to the family.  And, to you, young Noah, you're at peace, now.  No more bullying.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Devin Scott, 17, Death by Suicide

Welcome to the new school year.  This is the year that we're supposed to see a difference.  This is the year that we're supposed to see the number of teen suicides markedly reduced.  We're not off to a good start.
After just the second day of his senior year, 17-year-old Devin Scott, in Colorado Springs, ended his own life.  It has not been confirmed, yet, that bullying was a factor.  And, there are no indications that Devin was an LGBT teen.  

Although bullying hasn't been officially named as the culprit, there is plenty of proof that says otherwise.  It is documented that there was a minor scuffle at Vista Ridge High School that resulted in the person Devin had the run-in with wanting to fight him.  In fact, somewhere between 30-50 people showed up at his house wanting to see the fight.  And, despite the fact that these people pounded on his door and taunted him from outside, no fight materialized.  The assault then continued online, on his facebook account.  According to his mother, Devin disabled his facebook account several times during the summer vacation because of constant cyberbullying.  Angel Bradley, Devin's mother said:
"That's why we're talking about it. This is difficult for me to be talking about this on the day of my son's funeral, but I think awareness needs to be out there. Somebody needs to hear the story so that another family doesn't have to go through this."

A lot is being done to make this year different.  Better.  A lot more needs to be done, obviously.

There is an ever-growing sea of people and organizations working tirelessly in an effort to bring awareness to the bullying issue and try to bring it to an end.  Obviously, none of it was able to save the life of Devin Scott.  However, in his honor, it's time right now, while the school year is in its infancy to redouble our efforts, to work even harder and more focused in our effort to bring the bullying scourge to a screeching halt and work towards greatly reducing the number of teen suicides.  The State of Colorado has an anti-bullying law in effect for all of their schools.  However, having laws on the books is meaningless without more action being taken.  I'm convinced, after seeing this all unfold during the last school year, that it's going to take the efforts of many ordinary people - families, friends, neighbors, concerned citizens - to accomplish our goal.  And, accomplishing this goal is a must.  

There are organizations online as well as suicide prevention lifelines.  We should all strive to have this information memorized.  We never know when we're going to need it!

Devin Scott would've turned 18 on August 20th.  This was his senior year of high school.  He was on the brink of life getting better for him.  Rest in peace, Devin. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Another Anoka-Hennepin in the Making?

Every now and then, I get personal emails from readers of the Enough is Enough blog...for myriad reasons.  Every so often, I'll receive an email that begs for some sort of action on my part.  At the very least, a reaction.  "Anonymous" (that's just the name she chose to go by) sent me an alarming email that needed to be shared.

We've seen what can happen to LGBT youth, or even those perceived to be, in a community where the culture is hard-right, fundamentalist Christian.  Think: Anoka-Hennepin.  If you're unfamiliar with that, google it.  It's definitely not something that we would want to revisit.  Yet, revisiting it may be exactly what we're doing right now.
Cody Strauss and Sarah Carman we boyfriend/girlfriend for 2 years.  Sarah was a friend of "Anonymous".  In 2008, a horrific automobile accident left Cody severely injured, comatose, and rendered to a rehabilitation home.  Sarah stayed, stoically, by his side.  "I love Cody with all my heart and soul", Sarah wrote in her blog.  That was July 10th, 2009.  August 22nd, they were both gone.  Sarah's death was ruled a suicide, with a single gunshot to the head; Cody's, however, was ruled "undertermined".  He suffered two gunshots to his chest.  Was it a murder/suicide?  Three years of "investigation" has done nothing to answer that question.  However, it is the belief of "Anonymous" that Cody and Sarah both committed suicide on that day.  According to "Anonymous", they had both been bullied.  The rub is that the Hays County Sheriffs didn't investigate the bullying aspect.  It's as if it was swept under the rug.  Meanwhile, we're just short of three years since the tragic event, and neither family has any answers.  Says Debra Carman, Sarah's mother:
I do believe that Sarah did not kill herself, I know she didn't. I know in my heart as a mother, I just know.
Twenty months later, another friend of hers from Dripping Springs High School, Jesse Hunt, went home from school and committed suicide.  He, too, had been bullied.  This time, rather than drag out an ineffective "investigation", Jesse's suicide was completely swept under the rug:  no news about it either in the local papers or on television.  And, suddenly, we have what appears to have the potential of another Anoka-Hennepin on our hands.  The making of another suicide cluster.

The common threads here are that all three of the victims have all been from the same school.  All three had been bullied.  All three committed suicide.  Neither case is being treated as a component of being bullied. None of the three were LGBT teens.  Then again, not all of the teens from Anoka-Hennepin were, either.  And, that doesn't matter one iota.  LGBT teens aren't the only ones who are bullied.  They are not the only ones who commit suicide nor are their suicides the only ones we're working tirelessly to prevent.  What matters here is the fact that, as was the case in Minnesota not to very long ago, there's a rash of teen suicides that are being swept under the rug.  Seemingly overlooked.  In Anoka-Hennepin, we know that the fact that the majority of the teens who ended their lives were LGBT and that that region was (and, still is) far right-wing, very "Christian".  As such, LGBT teens, even those who were perceived to be!, committing suicide just wasn't very high on their list of misguided priorities.

We cannot afford to see a repeat of what happened in Minnesota just a few short years ago.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reaching the Boiling Point

"It's going to get worse before it begins to get better".  As the struggle for Equal Rights continues, as predicted, the battle is becoming much more heated.  And, bitter.  And, dangerous.  In just the past 72 hours alone, there's been a major escalation in the verbal and physical attacks on the LGBT community, as well as their supporters.  Sadly, there's been one death.
Anyone with access to the Internet, and particularly those who have facebook accounts, are aware of the furor that was caused recently when the makers of the iconic Oreo cookie showed their support for the LGBT community.  In response, the lunatic fringe, LGBT-hating extremists went into full attack mode.  Some of the venomous things they posted as comments brings full light to the dangerous climate members of the LGBT community are facing today.  If you think for a minute that the hatred and intolerance these adults routinely show doesn't have a major impact on the bullying and LGBT teen suicide rate or the level of violence against members of the LGBT community, you're wrong.
Over the weekend, Cory Oden, an LGBT man, was brutally attacked simply because of who he is.  For the simple "crime" of being a gay man in America - the country that's supposedly the "land of the free" - Cory endured a brutal attack that could've very easily claimed his life. Just because he's a gay man in America.  If you get the time, and are so inclined, please do go show Cory some love and support.  Here's his facebook page.  I was reading some of his wall posts moments ago.  This has been a life-changing event for him, obviously.  
As I lay here on my porch swing looking at the sky, sorting all the jumble in my brain. I can't stop thinking about all the people in the world suffering. Maybe it be acts of hatred, maybe it be dying loved ones, maybe even just as simple as you don't know how you're going to pay your rent and survive in what seems to be a cold hard world. I've got quite the battle approaching. Everyone knows its a tough one to rise above and conquer. We have to remember to keep the faith and love flowing through our veins. Whatever struggles you are facing, whatever the outcome may be, just remember to always let your voice be heard and make some noise!!! You never know who just may be listening ♥
 In Portland, Texas, a lesbian, teenaged couple was found shot in the head.  Nineteen-year-old Mollie Olgin succumbed to her injuries.  It hasn't "officially" been classified a hate crime at the time of this writing.   Of course, that's not to say that it wasn't.

So, there you have it.  In just under 72 hours, one dead, one in critical condition, one in serious condition.  What's my point?  If you go back to the insanity of the attack on the Oreo's ad on facebook, and read the comments, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the LGBT community is under attack...that "they" have declared war on members of the LGBT community and its supporters.

Here's the point:  what we're starting to see is a culture that's reaching its boiling point.  The religious fanatics and the homophobic extremists are multiplying rapidly, just as we are on this side of the battle line.  For all of their holiness and deep-rooted "Christian" faith, they're leading us into, essentially, a war right here on our own soil.  Their verbal assaults have been dialed up to fever pitch.  Violence against members of the LGBT community is rising in both frequency and severity.  And, people are losing their lives.

Of course, this mentality isn't anything new in this country.  They killed blacks for sport as they fought for their rights.  Isn't it ironic that these people who profess to be good, "God-fearing Christians" are so comfortable with hatred, intolerance and, worse, the death of those they oppose?  Perhaps, for them, fearing God is in their best interest, after all.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Third Marine, The Fourth Brother

This story was sent to me from a regular reader of this blog.  I think it begs to be read by everyone.  This is the story of USMC Ryan Mire, told by a loving, grieving uncle.  
I admire sad and serious stories.  That is not to say that I don't enjoy a humorous story or a good laugh, because I certainly do.  It is that I find great meaning, message, and resolution through tears.  The following reflection is as true as my memory can muster . . . it articulates my thoughts and my memories of sad days for our family and me.  I wrote this not to entertain, but to challenge us from our place of comfort.
No 20-year old person is supposed to die!  Dying is meant for those who have spent their youth; used well their middle age; and fulfilled their elder years.  However, die he did.  He left behind a mother, father, grandfather, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, as well as comrades in arms.  I claim this to be his story, but likely it is mine.  Perhaps it is at least my simplistic attempt to squeeze something of value from his untimely and unnecessary death.
My father, himself a United State Marine Corps veteran from World War II and the Korean Conflict, weak from prolonged illness, replete in his Veterans of Foreign Wars' hat stood as much to attention as he could as a man of 80+ years.  I stood next to him, at least partially as a steadying presence, bare headed, sadness and loss clearly written across my face.  We stood nearby the gravesite, in Woodside Cemetery in Westminster, Massachusetts - less than a mile from the house where my five siblings and I grew up.  This is where my mother is buried alongside other family members including an uncle and one of my brothers-in-law.  This is the place where my father is buried now and hopefully where I will be buried one day.  This pre-revolutionary war graveyard has served its purpose well ever since Abner Moore became its first resident in 1742.
The three brothers, my nephews, two in and one out of uniform, Marine Corps uniforms to be specific, stood at uncomfortable attention.  There were also several other Marine Corps uniformed men and women nearby who had actually escorted him home to final rest.  They brought him home together with a folded flag; five sealed envelopes; a pre-recorded version of Taps, all together with words of appreciation from both a grateful nation and the Commander-In-Chief.
His mother and father, my sister Bette Jane and brother-in-law, Saul, of course were there.  They were barely able to stand, their grief nearly overwhelming.  My other sisters, brother, sister-in-law, and brothers-in-law, all of his aunts and uncles, his grandfather, along with cousins, nieces, nephews and family friends were there as well, all suffering near inconsolable sadness and loss -- our dear friends sharing in our family's grief.
I have always thought of my sister Bette Jane and her husband Saul as saints.  This is not because they are necessarily without sin or act particularly holy, but because their hearts and outreached helping hands could extend and did extend way beyond their physical reach to comfort, care for, and ease the pain and sadness of many persons - particularly of many children.  I know of no better examples of what my Lutheran friends so often say, "God's work, our hands."
Some years ago, Bette Jane and Saul adopted four boys . . . brothers who had been neglected by their alcohol addicted mother.  Social services had removed them from their neglectful home and placed them in various families as foster children.  They were later put up for adoption.  Better Jane and Saul, foster parents to two and then four ended up adopting all four of these boys.  This sudden family of six lived a happy life together, spending much of it in Southern New Hampshire, eventually seeing each of these four boys grow into fine human beings and good men.  Three of these four boys, hardly boys, by then grown men, were serving or had served in the United States Marine Corps.  I remember thinking how very handsome they all looked in their full dress blue uniforms with red and white accepts.  Their grandfather, my father, being the Marine veteran that he was, exuded pride every time he talked or thought about these three grandsons who chose to serve their country by becoming Marines.  Their father, himself a retired US Army veteran, shared in the pride that comes from watching your sons grow; become men; and serve their country as he himself had done throughout his entire adult life.  To tell the truth, all of us, veterans and non-veterans alike were proud of these fine men.
The youngest of the three Marines, 20-year old Ryan, actually the youngest in this family of six, died while on active duty in Okinawa, Japan.  He died not because of an act of war, not because of an accident, not because of friendly fire.  He died because of hatred, shame, ignorance, fear, and possibly self-loathing.  He died alone in an outbuilding at a remote section of the island-base after hanging himself.
Ryan chose to end his life rather than, in his mind, shame his family and the Marine Corp that he loved.  Shame caused by compromising photographs that someone had then published to the Internet.  Pictures that would likely broadcast him as a gay man.
I wonder if Ryan's death is the outcome some or perhaps even many people want for gay men and women.  I have often wondered if there were people somewhere celebrating Ryan's death on this very day; celebrating on the day of our family's deep sadness:  a day when we saw a life given up at such a young and promising age. I have ever dared wonder to myself, were some individuals actually rejoicing in the fact that there was one less of "them" around.  To us who stood in Woodside Cemetery on that cool early spring day, at uncomfortable attention, he was not one of 'them'; he was our loving son, our brother, our nephew, our cousin, our grandson, our neighbor, our friend, and our comrade - truly loved by all.  Ryan as a gay man, if that is what he was, deserved a chance as much as anyone else, to live a full and complete life of his choosing; his life to live in freedom and dignity.
As were stood there on that day at uncomfortable attention, we all thought about what we might have said to this dear young man to assuage his fear and eliminate the shame he felt.  Would he have listened if we told him, once again, that we loved him 'no matter what', or as some would say 'warts and all'?  Would he perhaps have taken a different path, had we been able to tell him that there is a fulfilling life available to all of us, yes, even to gay men and women?  I wonder, though, if he would have even believed us, even if we had been given the chance to say something to him before?  Truth is, as far as we know, he chose this path without conversation with anyone - after all, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".
As nearly as we can determine, he left behind only the five handwritten letters sealed in five envelopes . . . each addressed to a different person . . . I do not know much detail of what was in them, I only know that they contained his last words.
When all was said, and all was done on that cool spring day, we left that pre-revolutionary war graveyard with memories in our minds, loss in our hearts, tears in our eyes, and a folded flag in our hands.
So, what lessons should or could we draw from this?  I would not be so presumptuous to suggest lessons for others.  For me, however, my lessons are few and simple:
  • to be outspoken in my support, respect, and love for all peoples;
  • to respect and value the differences among us;
  • to respect individuals for whom they are and for the decisions that they make to live fulfilling and meaningful lives in the ways that they choose;
  • to respect individuals' choices regarding who they love
  • to never remain silent or quiet when any human being is marginalized, or when any human being is denied rights that I take for granted

Sadly, there is nothing I can say nor anything that I can do to bring Ryan back to us.  However, if these words resonate for only one person, whose heart, upon hearing this story, grows "three sizes that day" . . . perhaps they will have earned their right to paper.
As I said at the beginning, for me, resolution, message, and meaning come through tears.  I hope you share my tears . . . that on that day, in that place, were shed for our dear Ryan, a 20-year old man; the third marine, the fourth brother.
I hope and trust that you're resting in peace, Ryan Mire.  Thank you for sharing his story with us, Bruce.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Marty has to get the credit for this one.  Like many people, I've been following the story of Karen Klein, the 68-year-old school bus monitor who was caught on video being severely and inhumanely bullied by a group of middle-schoolers.  And, like most people, I thought it was an outrage that these young menaces would do what they did to this sweet lady.  They were, indeed, beyond cruel.  Their behavior was reprehensible.  I was very happy, like I'm sure many of you were, that the action against these boys was swift, and it appears that it will be quite well it should be.
Marty saw the whole thing differently.  He called me, full of alarm, to ask if I'd seen the story.  Well, of course I had.  Half the world has seen it by now.  Hell, Karen's getting a vacation out of the whole deal, paid for by "everyday Joes" from around the world to the tune of $427,000+ and counting!!!  That's going to be some vacation. 

What alarmed Marty was the fact that the authorities did, in fact, react as swiftly and definitively against these young tormentors; however, when it comes to the bullying that's done to their peers, everyone drags their heels.  Worse, they fall into a very predictable pattern of complete denial. ("Those boys are good as gold"...Kim Lockwood)  Once he pointed that out, they whole story about Karen Klein became a whole different story for me.

I'm wondering how "they" would respond to that.  We know all too well about the intense bullying that goes on both in the schools and on the school buses.  For those of us who have seen the movie, "Bully", we've seen it up close and personal.  Some of you have been bullied yourselves or have kids who have been.  You know exactly what I'm talking about.
What Karen Klein endured from these young tyrants, no one should have to endure.  That includes their peers and classmates!!  We have a culture where kids, straight and LGBT, are ending their lives because of the very same thing that Karen endured.  The world saw the affect their mindless meanness had on her, and the world reacted.  Swiftly.  Effectively.  Where is that response when the kids who suffer that same level of abuse day in and day out?  What is it about our culture that relegates that behavior to a "boys will be boys" mentality when it comes to the young people being bullied but runs to the aid of a Karen Klein who only suffered the same mindless attacks that the schoolboys and girls suffer everyday?  Understand that these are questions that beg to be explored and answered.  It's a mindset.  It's a mindset that costing lives needlessly.

The members of the facebook blog page hold my feet to the fire on everything I write, and I love it.  It keeps me on my toes.  That said, let me clarify that I have no problem whatsoever with the outpouring of love and support that Karen has received from around the globe.  I think it's heartwarming to see everyone respond like that.  She certainly should have never had to go through this in the first place.  My issue, and Marty's issue, is simple:  where is this response when we know that this is happening day-in-and-day-out to school kids on school buses, in schoolyards, and in classrooms every single nearly every school across the country?  Where's the rush to action then?  Why are the authorities not responding to those incidences with the same fervor they responded to in Karen's ordeal?  These are questions that need to be scrutinized and answered before we can begin to see improvements.

It is my opinion that this case proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the ball is being dropped in the homes.  I'll come under attack for that statement.  But, allow me to state my case:  as the overwhelming majority of you fellow Baby Boomers will attest to, there was absolutely no way, when we were adolescents, that we would even dream of talking to our elders the way these boys talked to Karen.  NO WAY!!  Respect was instilled in us.  So, where was the ball dropped?  Isn't respect something that's supposed to be taught in the home?  How is it that these boys, and others like them, are so at ease with talking to an elderly adult in this manner?  See, if these boys have no respect for a 68-year-old grandmother, and clearly they didn't, there's no way in hell they can be expected to have any respect for their peers. 

The cold, hard truth is that we're not going to solve anything, insofar as bullying is concerned, by focusing solely on the youngsters.  It's becoming more and more clear by the day that the real work is needed from the top, down.  Look, these kids are being taught to be cruel, disrespectful, careless, and intolerant.  Whether the teaching is direct or indirect, the teacher(s) is the adults in their lives.

Karen Klein, I'm sorry you had to endure such insensitivity from these boys.  I hope you have a wonderful and memorable vacation.  As for Marty, well...what can I say?:  that's my boy!  As for everyone else, teach love.  Teach respect.  Teach acceptance.  It's the only way out of this mess.

As I was writing this, the story was released that two of the tormentors have since offered what seemed to be heartfelt apologies for their behavior.  That's good!  When interviewed by Anderson Cooper, one said:
"I feel really bad about what I did," Wesley, one of the boys in the video, said in a statement issued to the show by police. "I wish I had never done those things. If that had happened to someone in my family, like my mother or grandmother, I would be really mad at the people who did that to them."
while the other youngster stated:
"I am so sorry for the way I treated you," Josh, another one of the boys, said in a statement. "When I saw the video I was disgusted and could not believe I did that. I am sorry for being so mean and I will never treat anyone this way again."
See, they aren't born to act that way!!  That repulsive, and dangerous!, behavior is taught.  Directly or indirectly, the lesson is still taught and learned.  I'm wondering what would happen if every case of bullying went viral like the Karen Klein incident did?  Forced to actually see their actions as the video goes viral, and sentenced to hearing the world respond to their spiteful, nasty behavior, I'm wondering if we'd start seeing some of these young bullies begin to turn away from their negative and cruel behavior?  One can always hope.