My bullying series uncovers key insights and profiles young people who have committed suicide due to bullying (commonly called bullycide). Click here to read my series from the beginning
Why have we suddenly become so aware of the gay teen suicide problem in America? Ideally, I would like to think that we – the general US population – have become more sensitive to the trials that gay teens face (such as bullying). I do believe this is true. However, I cannot help but wonder if we were actually stimulated to greater awareness by the sensational details in the Clementi case.
If you recall, Tyler’s death involved his roommate streaming live video of his intimate contact with another male on the internet. Tyler also updated his Facebook status before jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York City. Without these two details, would the general population really be hearing about Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Cody Barker, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase, Corey Jackson, and Jamarcus Bell? What about Chloe Lacey? If you watch Anderson Cooper, maybe. Otherwise, I don’t think so.
Is it not enough that kids are dying due to bullying, judgment, rejection and/or self-hatred? Do we really need sensational details to awaken us to a bullying and suicide problem that has existed for years? We must allow these numbers, names, faces and stories to pierce our hearts. We must stay awake. We must act.
We are losing nearly 5,000 young people (10 to 25) to suicide every year in America. It is important to know whether these kids are gay or straight, so that we can learn why they are dying. But in another sense, it does not matter. We need anti-bullying and suicide prevention measures that – along with family acceptance – protect all vulnerable young people. Closer to home, we need faith communities to passionately tackle this issue with great care.
Since July, I have been unveiling a vision for how churches can engage teens and young adults who experience non-heterosexual identities. This surge forced me to divert my attention to bullying. In the coming weeks, I will return to what church leaders can do to care for and include LGBT+ and SSA young people in the church. It may be that sensitivity to the prevalence of gay teen suicide and bullying is what will set folks up to truly “act” on this vision. Please join me.
On Monday, we remember the life of Cody Barker. If you feel rejected or are being bullied, reach out for free help today. You are worth it!
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