Monday, March 21, 2011

Bullying and Teen Suicide

            I typically don’t do serious posts—obviously if you’re a regular reader of my blog you know that. But tonight I wanted to talk about something serious. I promise this won’t sound too “Public Service Announcement” and do hope you guys take a few minutes to read the entire post.

            In the last couple of months, there have been two teenagers in our local school systems who have committed suicide as a result of bullying.  The latest one was only 13 years old.  Way, way too young to die.

            A friend and I were talking about the subject of bullying yesterday. She admitted to being bullied in high school, but she couldn’t understand how it could drive someone to end their life.  At first I couldn’t remember being bullied. I was one of those midline kids in high school. You know, the ones you didn’t necessarily love and you didn’t hate. But then I remembered I was made fun of in elementary school. My school district kept changing and I ended up going to 3 different elementary schools. One of them was really bad. I think some kid told me I smelled or something.  So yeah, my friend and I were bullied, but it didn’t drive us to any drastic measures.

            But things are different now. When we were in high school, the internet wasn’t that popular yet. AOL chat was the latest, coolest thing. Bullying existed in the classrooms and hallways of our schools, but not at home for the most part. But now kids are bullied in the class, on the playgrounds, at lunch, on the school bus, and at home, on their computers.

            They literally cannot escape the taunts and ridicule.

            Kids can be cruel face to face with one another, but once they get behind the “safety” of a computer screen, all filters are off. I have some younger friends on my social profiles and I see some of the things they post about what another. And trust me, I’m pretty wild and mouthy in real life, but even some of their remarks make me step back and think, “Wow. What is wrong with these kids?”

            I wonder how bullies became…bullies. Was it movies? T.V. shows? Peer pressure or parenting? I don’t know. All I do know that you don’t have to be taught to not bully. Common decency tells you not to bully. That little place inside you that tells you the difference between right and wrong. And why would you want to hurt someone so badly that you drive them to take their life?

            And yes, I do wonder where the bullies’ parents are in all of this. I find it very hard to believe that a kid who is so mean that their victim sees death as a better alternative then facing another day being around them, is a little angel at home. As a person who studied psychological for years, there is ALWAYS a sign.

            Bullying has gotten a lot of attenti0n recently, but what is being done? Should bullies be prosecuted for their acts? I believe they should. If you rob someone and they die of a heart attack during that robbery, you will be charged with involuntary murder if not a higher crime. Also, let’s not forget that kids are bullied for other reasons then their sexuality. Kids are picked on for so many things and each one is just as serious and a cause for concern as the last.

            Do I have a message for kids who are being bullied? Yes, I kind of do. Please. Please remember that there is life after school and it’s so, so much better than what is going on now. Please. Please talk to someone you trust about being bullied and how its making you feel.  If you’re having suicidal thoughts and you don’t think you can talk to anyone, please call the National Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

            Do I have something to say to kids who are bullying other kids? Yes, I kind of do. Please put yourself in the other kid’s place and think about how it would make you feel. Please. Please talk to someone you trust, because there has got to be some deep hurting in you to make you want to hurt someone that badly. And please don’t bully. You don’t want a death on your hands, your thoughts, and you conscience for the rest of your life.

            In closing: Bullying someone doesn’t make you cool. It could make you an unintentional killer.

What are your thoughts on bullying?


  1. When I was growing up, I was a bit clumsy and shy... but at the same time, I was one of the bigger kids, so it wasn't an issue for the most part.

    I think it starts at home, unfortunately.

  2. This has really been on my mind in the last week because of reading the book Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen. It really brought out the catastrophic effects of bullying on people, what it drives them to. And I wish that I COULD understand what drives people to bully. I feel bad if I hurt someone's feelings unintentionally, so I know I couldn't live with myself if I did it on purpose.

    I teach 7th grade English, so I witness kids being cruel to each other all the time. I do my best to keep it out of my classroom, and that stresses me out because the idea of being mean/rude/hateful is so ingrained into some that it seems hopeless to be able to get it out.

    There are all the stereotypical answers to give about why people bully - low self-esteem, peer pressure, etc. I think it's just one big cocktail of pain in the bully's life or a desire to feel powerful on their part. So to feel powerful they pick on the week.

    I wasn't really BULLIED perse, but I was teased by some thin, blonde, popular people in middle school, and to this day I fight prejudices against that kind of person. I really feel for those who are bullied now because I know those wounds will leave marks for years to come.

  3. I can't imagine taking my life because of bullying, honestly. I was picked on in middle school plenty. It cooled down in high school because I got into dual enrollment. Either way, it wasn't fun. I can't imagine the levels it would take for me to get that depressed. For everyone else, it sucks even more because of all the hormones and emotions going through your head during that time of your life. It's not pleasant at all.

    And as for something else that can help, if someone is being bullied and you know it then reach out and just be their friend. That helped me a ton, so who knows how much good it'll do someone who is seriously in trouble.