Recently in the American media there has been an upsurge of coverage of gay suicides due to school bullying. Like many Americans, I was horrified and saddened that these young people felt that taking their own lives was the only solution to their problems. Some American organizations and people are making this a LGBT issue, and it is. Intolerance and cruelty to others due to different lifestyle choices, religion, ethnicity, gender, and political views is still by and large culturally acceptable. But not all suicides are LGBT related. Bullying is rampant in our schools, and suicide is becoming a more common way for young people to express their anger, shame, grief, and despair. They feel they have no one to turn to. They feel they have nowhere to belong. And they are tired of holding it in.
The response to this issue has been impressive. A single dad living in Salt Lake City took up the issue of bullying on his otherwise humorous blog, and it struck a chord with many people. You can read his post here.
People all around the country are making "It Gets Better" videos to encourage these young people to hang in there, and to remind them that things really do get better. (Click here to see President Obama's video) Since I am better at writing, this post will be a letter addressed to any young person suffering from bullying, depression, or shame because of who they are. Please read this and share it with everyone you know: friends, co-workers, children, family, neighbors. Bullying and suicide among young people is a crisis in American schools right now. You never know who will read this letter, so please, do your part to end the cycle of violence. Thank you.
Dear [Your Name],
You're probably feeling as though life is a big pile of crap. That every single day you go through the motions of living and that you wish you could just end it all. Maybe you've been bullied every day for as long as you can remember. Maybe you feel that you can't let anyone know a secret that you have, and every day that secret is slowly consuming you. Maybe you feel that you will never find anyone to accept and love you as you are. And you're this close to giving up.
Becoming an adult is painful, and not enough people tell you how painful it is because they don't want to remember the excruciating humiliation they went through. But I will come clean with you now: even though there are many days that have been terrible, and there might be rough days ahead, it will not always be like this. There is a life beyond middle school, high school, and college. I know right now you may feel as though you cannot remember a time when you did not hate yourself and everyone else. But even though we may never meet, even though I many never know anything about you, know this: you are loved. You have a future. You have a purpose.
Together, we can help end bullying. Together, we can help end the unnecessary suicides of our peers. But we need you here to see it happen. I need you here. Please have faith and stick around. Tell someone how much you are hurting. Even if you feel you have no one, there is at least one person out there who cares about you. Tell him or her. And believe. Believe things will get better. Make a commitment to yourself to live. And one day, sooner than you expect, you just might find yourself living a life that exceeds your expectations. You can do it. I'm doing it, and there are many of us who have felt the way you do, and we're doing it. Join us. I promise you that it gets better.
I love you,