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.