Suicide As A Result of Bullying and Intolerance

Sometimes things happen that are unacceptable.  There has been a string of suicides lately among young gay men.  What is unacceptable is not so much that they killed themselves (note: I am not saying that I support suicide), but rather that they were forced into a situation where the only way they thought they could get out was through suicide.  What is unacceptable is that intolerance and a refusal to understand and to accept creates this kind of situation.

There has been a series of suicides this past month – and their ages are quite simply too young.  No one should be treated this way – ever, for any reason.  That is especially true among 13 year olds, middle school students, high school students, freshmen in college:

Billy Lucas, 15, hung himself after being made fun of by classmates.
Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head after being bullied by classmates
Seth Walsh, 13, hung himself because of gay taunts
Tyler Clementi, 18, jumped off a bridge after college roommates posted a video online taken secretly of him in a sexual act

Whether or not you are gay, are an ally, an advocate, or think being gay is “okay”, you have to admit that each of these situations is horrible and that something needs to be changed.

Yet people still do not want to take responsibility.  The Dallas school district involved in Asher Brown’s suicide blames his home life.  Unacceptable.  While it is possible for his situation at home to contribute to his feelings, the situation at school was certainly inextricably involved.

There is a basic human instinct that requires one say “Why is this happening?”  “What can we do to make people feel safe?”  “How are we raising our kids?”  “What allows our children to treat others this way?”  “What kind of examples are we setting?”  We need to make this type of behavior unacceptable – because no one should be treated this way and no one should feel that killing one’s self is the only way out.

People ask “What else was going on that made him want to kill himself?”  As I read in one commentary this week, would you ask they same thing if someone were killed by a drunk driver or by a bullet from a gun?  No.  Yet, it seems not to be enough that these people killed themselves because of intolerance and the way they were treated.  And this double standard is exactly the point, isn’t it?

Ellen Degeneres had a short monologue recently about this “epidemic”.  Listen to what she says.  Ellen sums up the way I feel and the way I hope so many more people feel:

I feel for those who are in similar situations and the families of Billy, Asher, Seth, and Tyler.  I hope we can all change the way we treat each other.

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About Joel Portman
Network Builder. Diversity and Inclusion Advocate. Social Media Enthusiast. Lover of family, friends, the outdoors, travel, and learning. I have experience working in the healthcare, education, diversity/inclusion, retail, and non-profit industries with organizations ranging in size from five people to Fortune 500. I am an MBA graduate of the University of Denver.

2 Responses to Suicide As A Result of Bullying and Intolerance

  1. Siobhan says:

    The Ellen video is blocked in the UK for copyright reasons. You’re right. It’s totally unacceptable that anyone should be put in a situation where the only way they can see it being resolved is to take their own life. I taught 11-18 year olds for two years, and it was really important to me that they understood that homophobia was a prejudice, just like racism or sexism- things they would never consider acceptable. The trouble is, that it is still acceptable in the media to laugh at someone for being gay. You often get the stock camp character etc. And then you will have parents who reinforce these prejuidces at home. I think that as a society we need to be less tolerant of people making homophobic remarks. People let these things pass too easily.

  2. Pingback: DU’s and Denver’s Reaction to Recent Suicides « Joel Portman

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