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.


  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/01/bridgend-wales-youth-suicide-media-ethics An interesting article I read recently on suicide clusters. So sorry to hear about the current situation but glad to be kept informed. Not sure if the non-reporting of the third suicide you mentioned might not have been cautionary? Just a thought.

  2. A great blog Ron.....incredibly salient points and as a bisexual parent, I am acutely aware of the bullying tactics that persist in schools and out in society....here in New Zealand we have the same issues you mention, but in the main, suicides are predominantly a white middle-class epidemic amongst males....the boundaries and expectations of families and society and those of sexuality are so blurred, no wonder our kids don`t know where to turn.
    Keep up the great work

  3. I just finished reading Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. What I remember from high school as a horror story I found today to be a study on bullying that is being reenacted in our schools presently (no need to isolate the students on a desert island without supervision, as is the premise of the book). No surprise that Wm. Golding was a school teacher; wonder if he found his material in his classrooms? Definitely a must-read for those wanting to unravel the psychology behind bullying.

  4. http://www.saultstar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3592804 And now, a mom is banned from her daughter's school for being proactive in protecting her from bullying.

  5. Ah damn. Sarah was a friend too. R.I.P Gorgeous.

  6. You don’t even know what you’re talking about. You shouldn’t write about people’s lives that you don’t know the actual situation. At least in Cody’s case, this wasn’t a result of being bullied. It had absolutely nothing to do with it.