Spinning Off Suicidal Kids
February 15, 2012 Leave a comment
First, you’re going to have to read this. Don’t even bother reading more until you have.
We good now? Alright. I won’t bore you about how much we all agree that Christians are terrible. But…
One way to solve this is for the school district to exercise the tired arm of the Nanny State with cliche tactics like nobody-loses dodge ball and painful compassion-building exercises. Another way to solve this, in a place like Anoka-Hennepin, is for teachers and school administrators to shrug off bullying or suggest kids build some character against the awkward rites of adolescence. It seems with the second option, persecuted kids will kill themselves.
This trend towards suicide cannot be that all of the sudden gay kids are getting bullied. Is that a new thing? Kids get bullied. It probably helps them discover who they are, get comfortable in their own skin, learn to socialize and gel and warp to various social structures. Just like they will as adults for tight-assed bosses and loose-lipped in-laws. No one seriously seems to suggest that the bullying of LGBT kids (or anyone different) is new.
Instead, I think the root of these suicides can be found here:
Kids started to feel that the normal response to stress was to take your life.
Which gets mentioned early on and quickly gets lost in how tremendously evil Christians are – and they are. In fact, as a minor point, we probably need to stop lying to kids that there’s a heaven. Anyways.
The article in Rolling Stone goes on to make a link to the disproportionate number of gay students killing themselves. However, isn’t it possible that, because of all the media attention on suicide, our culture may have created a positive incentive for stressed out and bullied kids to kill themselves? Essentially that, your life sure feels terrible getting teased, bullied, assaulted everyday by your peers. But if you kill yourself, the whole country will be on your side, crying over your death, you’ll get mentioned by the likes of Dan Savage in another “it gets better” video. (And you know what, it does get better. You won’t be teased for being gay to your face by your peers. It’ll be behind your back, by your coworkers. And you won’t care. You won’t care because you figured out how small and petty and worthless those people are when you were teased in middle school. And you won’t have killed yourself then, because you’re not an idiot.)
I know I’m coming down really harsh and insensitive. I think that’s exaggerated in my tone because of the severity of the issue. My problem is that I am very unsure how to approach this and I think those that are, are kidding themselves. Kids will bully. Hell, they probably ought to bully. It serves a social function re: community building, forcing you to find friends and confidants. But I’m not a sociologist or a psychologist. And yes, the school district is making this worse and I bet they’re criminally liable. But I don’t think teachers telling kids its OK to be gay and that other kids are awful would stop every suicide. That doesn’t mean teachers should be prevented from having opinions, either (unless they’re the kind of opinions you disagree with inflicting upon kids*). It’s especially cloudy with an epidemic like in Anoka-Hennepin. Yet, this is what RS is suggesting: LGBT kids or those perceived as such are killing themselves because of the Anoka policy of condoning bulling mixed with the teacher’s gag-order on LGBT issues in class (and also the pervasive evangelical Christianity of the town). I don’t think that’s enough.
Now how do we really stop kids, whatever their orientation, from killing themselves? I suspect the solution might not be so obvious. Perhaps we ought to negatively incentivize suicide. Again, regardless of orientation, anyone who kills themselves is stupid. It’s a dumb thing to do. Suicide is not a heraldic call to arms. We are offering martyrdom to kids who feel pressured, stressed, ostracized. No surprise, they’re taking our gambit and dying what they think is a glorious death (a la Romeo and Juliet) or maybe, just a solution to bullying. It’s crass, but its the same thing for persecuted Muslims who have literally nothing except poverty and an early death and then some sicko convinces them there’s glory in their death by martyrdom. Except, in this instance, every one of us is culpable in arguing in favor of these bullied kids going out and killing themselves.
*Oh, now maybe you see why this is a little difficult.