Throughout my bullying series, I cover key issues and profile young people who have committed suicide due to bullying (commonly called bullycide). Click here to read the series from the beginning.
Many complain that today’s social justice movement waters down the Gospel. If bringing justice to the death of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover means a watering down, then I say “let it flow.” The April 2009 death of this 11-year old boy catapulted me from compassionate counselor to suicide prevention advocate.
I reached a climatic end to my inaction in May 2009 as I realized that Lead Them Home must help mobilize the evangelical church to get involved in anti-bullying and suicide prevention work. With that vision, I began plans for a Gay Teen Suicide Prevention seminar within the evangelical church that was ultimately held in December 2009. I will share more about this event later in my series. For now, I simply want to say: it all started with Carl. God used Carl – and his mother – to infuse within me a deep passion for communicating the heart of Jesus for young people vulnerable to bullying and suicide.
Carl lived with his mother, Sirdeaner Walker, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He had been ruthlessly teased about his sexuality for months. Sirdeaner is quick to point out that Carl did not identify as gay or LGBT+. At 11 years old, he was “just a child” she says. He was continually called “faggot” and other names intended to label him as gay. This case demonstrates that you do not have to be gay to be a victim of anti-gay bullying. Sirdeaner complained to Carl’s school many times, but she was told this was normal social interaction.
On the evening of April 6, 2009, Carl came home from school defeated by another day of bullying. As Sirdeaner cooked dinner, Carl headed upstairs. Assuming he was doing homework, she later called her son down for dinner. Sirdeaner eventually walked upstairs to find her little boy hanging by an extension cord wrapped around his neck. Bullying had taken its’ toll. He was dead.
Before Congress, Sirdeaner testified: “I know now that bullying is not a gay issue, or a straight issue. It’s a safety issue.” At the Massachusetts State House, she stated: “the most important thing I’ve learned is that bullying…can be prevented. And there isn’t a moment to lose.” For the sake of today’s vulnerable teens and pre-teens, let us find – this very moment – the common ground needed to save these precious young lives.
(1) Visit The Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation website.
(2) Like The Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation on Facebook.
(3) Read Sirdeaner Walker’s October 12, 2010 Washington Post article.
(4) Sign R.I.P. Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover on Facebook.
(5) Read Sirdeaner Walker’s testimony before Congress.
(6) Read Sirdeaner Walker’s testimony at the Massachusetts State House.
(7) Watch Sirdeaner Walker on YouTube.
Is preventing bullying really a simple issue? Join me next time to find out. In the days ahead, I will feature more memorials of young people who have committed suicide due to bullying. If you are being bullied, reach out for help today. If you need guidance in obtaining help, contact me. God loves you.
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