"Be the change you seek." - Mahatma GandhiIn one semester, in my tiny little town, two kids have killed themselves. One of them was my friend.
Now, we can place blame all we want. Blame the media. Blame the school. Blame the bullies. Blame the victims. Blame the parents.
But let's stop talking about whose fault it is, and talk about what you can do to stop this. Because the leading cause of death of teenagers, of my friends, is suicide. Drunk driving kills less kids.
The solution is really simple though. So simple it's a shame that this is even a problem.
Be nice. Be loving. Help. Think before you speak. Promote other people to be nice. Raise nice kids.
Because if the problem is the media, being nice will be show them the media is lying. If the problem is school, being nice will make it easier. If the problem is the bullies, raising nice kids will prevent it. If the problem is the victims, helping them will pull them through it. If the problem is the parents, showing love will save them.
And be like this with everyone. Not just the people you think are "at risk". No one "deserves it". I don't care if she cheated on you, I don't care if they're mean. When you stoop to the level of bullying you are even worse than they are.
Take this from a girl who's tried to kill herself 6 times, and almost did last night - I'm considered one of the happiest people my friends know.
You won't know who's "at risk". It could be anyone. It could be your best friend. It could be the cashier at the grocery store. It could be the head cheerleader.
"Fighting back" won't fix it - believe me, I've tried. So has science. Studies have proven, though, that fighting back only makes it worse. Standing up for them helps, in a way. You give them hope, show them someone cares. But it also makes the bully angrier, and sneakier.
So seriously. Stop blaming people. Stop trying to find some "perfect" prevention plan. It's an easy problem to solve.
I am so very sick of the cruelty that is accepted in America on the grounds of free speech. In a given day, I'm told by some youtube commenter to kill myself. I'm glared at and shoved by in the grocery store. I'm yelled at by my mother. I have nightmares about the crap my Dad put me through. I find out about a new rumor my ex-boyfriend has spread. I'm confronted by the judgement in my church. I'm told how worthless I am. My nose is rubbed in my failures. I'm anonymously texted about what a bitch I am. I'm told I'm a slut and a whore. And this isn't just me.
Every teenager I know goes through the same exact thing. Some go through even worse. No one escapes it, not even the "popular" or "well-adjusted" kids.
Every week, there's a school shooting in the news. Every three months someone I know dies.
When I was in public school, it was even worse. My cell number was given to everyone, including college students. I turned my phone off to stop getting those disgusting, disturbing and traumatizing texts and calls.I shut my facebook off for the same reason. I was cornered in empty hallways, shoved around and laughed at. My stuff was stolen, hidden around school, destroyed. I was laughed out of classrooms. Publicly humiliated by teachers. Tripped when I walked by. Rumors spread like wildfire. Sexually harassed. Sexually assaulted. Every time I got food at lunch, I was told how fat and disgusting I was. I stopped eating. Derogatory essays on how "disgusting and wrong" homosexuals are was accepted as school appropriate. I was alone - in an overcrowded lunch room, I sat at an empty table. The few who pretended to be my friends told everyone the secrets I told them. I was followed home, watched, threatened. I can't count how many times I was told to just kill myself and get it over with.
And this is just some of what happened. And no, it's not just me. I wasn't a "rare exception". It wasn't because I'm gay - I'm not. It happens to all of my friends. No one escapes high school unscathed.
It could save a life.