Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Justin Bieber and America's Teen Suicide rate: It Gets Better

This post is without a doubt one of the hardest to write. Having raised three nephews and three nieces, it is heartbreaking to deal with. America is in the grip of one of its worse crisis. Yes, it has to deal with the gay community. No, it’s not that gays are the biggest threat to society, as the Pope and the Catholic Church have recently stated. It is because Gay teens are committing suicide at an alarming rate.

This month alone within the last three weeks, the gay community has been rocked by the death of four teens that have committed suicide after been bullied at school. Among the victims of hate and ignorance  were:

Billy Lucas, 15 of Indiana, who hung himself from the barn rafters.

Seth Wash, 13 of California, who hung himself from a tree in the backyard.

Asher Brown, 13, of Texas, who shot himself with a 9mm Beretta.

Tyler Clementi, 18, of New Jersey, who jumped into the Hudson River, after being secretly taped having sex with another student.

There is no reason why America should not protect it’s youth from bullying in any form. Straight or gay. Yes, these young men were gay, and therefore have even more pressure to contend with, but none of our youth should ever feel suicide is a way out. It’s time for us “grown ups” to act like it and demand  safe schools for our young.  To this end Dan Savage has initiated a campaign called “It Gets Better” on youtube. He and his Spouse Terry have listed their video and are asking that anyone who wishes, please make up their own videos and post them. Stars such as singers Ciara and Lala have already recorded theirs, with more vowing to so.

I can’t reiterate how important it is for anyone reading this to speak up against bullying and homophobia. Our children need to know that life isn’t about hate, but about love and growth. Regardless of whom we love. It is hard enough for any teen to go through their growing pains, without having to carry extra. This brings me to a related topic: Teens are teens. Rich, poor, famous or not. In that vein, I’d like to make one thing clear: Being gay (or perceived as gay) doesn’t give ANY of us the right to belittle someone else. The website Shewired last night ran article on a LGBT Twitter poll in which it made fun of Justin Beiber:

This is exactly the kind of stupidity and childishness we need to condemn. Famous or not, we need to give our young respect. It doesn’t matter if they’re straight or gay. For grown adults to act in such a fashion is only enforcing the mind set of “ it’s okay, we’re only playing”. It’s not a joke to the one getting hurt. Let’s stop this now, before more kids commit suicide. 

It is imperative that we speak out against any form of bullying in schools. Parents, teachers, politicians, clergy, everyone, has to work to make the lives of our young the best it can be. 

To anyone reading this who is a teenager, or who knows of a child, who may be gay or just suffering from bullying, let them know they can talk to you, be there for them, let them know it’s going to be alright and get better.

How do I know it gets better? I remember a young man of 17 who was extremely introverted. He was smart, hardworking and loved by his family, but he still felt alone. He didn’t have friends, he knew he was gay (although he liked girls too) because he liked the same sex. After years of being alone and watching others “get busy” and “hook up”, one night he took a bottle of sleeping pills. Thank God he made it through. He’s doing well now, with the man who loves him and married him after 14 years. In fact he has just finished writing this post. So yes, it does get better. Some of us  just need a little help until then.
 Links to organizations that help gay youth:
The Trevor Project 
Suicide Hotline
The gay Center


  1. I am really saddened and angered by this post. Youths are not emotionally equipped to deal with the hatred aimed at them by their peers and society at large. It is time to step up and protect them because they deserve to experience all of the good that life has to bring! Thank you Stone again for keeping the community aware.

    P.S. I am so glad that you are a survivor. :)

    Everett J Smith

  2. This is just evil. Keep covering bullycide and leave them nowhere to hide.

    I've turned a lot of my own blog over to this topic. I hate it that we even need to.

    I made it to 58 so far. I know it gets better. I very nearly chose suicide at 17 when I was outed in school. I'm truly glad I didn't.

  3. I also hate that that we have to, but I can't see not doing anything. I know you feel the same way. It's uplifting to know that no matter how hard the fight is, we aren't alone in it. It's something we don't realize when we're in the pit of despair. Thanks for commenting!

  4. When I think back on last year, and how I wanted to end my life due to not feeling like I belong within the gay community, I can empathize what those teens were going through. I've been taunted in teased, but sadly, I had to grow thick skin and allow myself to grow into my own. Words cannot express how I feel when hearing about young dudes taking their lives due to the struggles that comes with being gay. . whether it's identity issues with self or bullying/ridicule from others . .sometimes a combination of both. . .I can only reach out in my own way. Soon enough, I'll be more open to actually do more things for my gay brethren. THe more support, the better. *Hugs to you Stone, and to those dealing with issues like this* Please, please, please talk it out with someone. Suicide is never the answer.

  5. Hey Cappy!I'm glad that we were among the "lucky" ones who made it. Sorry,I took a while, but it was really hectic(and fun)in Vegas. That's why I'm glad that Dan Savage took created "It Gets Better". It does indeed. Life has its ups and downs, we just have to learn that it's temporary. Unfortunately that's a bit harder to do when you're a teenager. That's where being older and having experience come in. It's our turn now to pass on what we've learned from what we've been through.


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