Disclaimer: This wasn’t a planned blog post.
I just woke up this morning and felt compelled to say something about the tragedy that happened near my hometown in Iowa.
So…if you are reading this because you want to see some witty repertoire about NYC or library school, this is not the post for you…it’s about death, bullying, and heroes.
There has been a lot of talk the last year or so about the dangers and repercussions of bullying.
I don’t see anything “new” about it, I’ll admit it’s different from when I was growing up, but I think the results are the same: shame, humiliation, life-long bouts of depression, and, worst of all, suicide.
Northwestern Iowa lost a young soul in Kenneth James Weishuhn, a 14-year-old who, after being bullied mercilessly after he came-out about being gay, took his own life on April 14th, 2012.
When I heard the news, I wept.
I wept because I was sad. I wept because I was angry. But, I also wept because I remembered…
For those of you who don’t know me in real life, or have only known me in the last few years, you may not realize I was also bullied pretty severely while in school…it started in elementary and continued until my Sophomore year (and only stopped then because my worse two bullies were kicked out of school). I know bullying is different now, with Facebook and Twitter, but like I said, the feelings are probably the same…
This will be the first time I’ve even admitted this publicly: I was suicidal at one point in early adolescence. I remember thinking about how easy it would be to just take a whole bottle of sleeping pills and not wake up. I remember wishing I’d never been born.
What kept me going? My family and a few close friends. But, also, a few people, who for whatever reason, would stick up for me whenever the bullies would start.
They weren’t my friends. We didn’t hang out. But, they were my heroes – and they’ll never know.
I hope the community where I grew up remember this recent tragedy…but, I’m sure they won’t. Memories are short. People live in a state of self-denial. No parents want to believe their children are bullies (but, obviously, some of them are). And, mourning Kenneth is the cool thing to do right now, so everyone is wearing pink in his honor and joining his Facebook wall.
And, I don’t have a problem with those things. My point is they don’t help him now, he needed you all to support him and stick up for him when he was alive. He needed you to be his heroes.
I pray for Kenneth and his family and hope he finds peace. I pray for the community because they have a lot of work to do. I pray for anyone who is going though what Kenneth went through.
Most importantly, I pray there will be a few who will learn from this and become strong enough to step-up as heroes in the future.
People like Kenneth, and me, need you.