Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bullying Can Lead to Suicide

I just read that there have been four (or five?) middle school suicides linked to bullying already this year. Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover (in Massachusetts) and Jaheem Herrera (Georgia), both 11 years old, committed suicide in the past month. Both endured homophobic taunts and bullying and determined that the best way away from the bullying was to end their lives. Eleven years old, for God's sake.

What will it take for schools and society to take this issue more seriously? Reading through the comments on these blog posts, I find it distressing to read of other stories by people who got very close to suicide themselves as a result of bullying.
These boys did not necessarily identify themselves as gay. It doesn't matter one way or another. In 2007, almost 9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation and gender expression. Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover played the ultimate macho sport of football, and that didn't keep him immune from being bullied.
I'd like to know what these parents of bullies are teaching and modeling for their children. How do they feel now to know that their children might have contributed to these boys' suicides? Do they feel culpable? Do they feel any remorse? Carl's and Jaheem's blood is on those bullies' hands.

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