Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Wearing Purple on Spirit Day
Although they are not the first, and unfortunately will probably not be the last, the tragic suicides/deaths of several young people in the last weeks have focused attention on the large and growing problem of bullying and homophobia.
I began to search for the names and ages of these most recent cases - the list is longer than the names in the news now. Scratch the surface and the facts stun, not only because of the hatred and all the sadness, but because of the sheer number, as well.
Names and ages of those in the news now:
Tyler Clementi - 18
Asher Brown - 13
Seth Walsh - 13
Justin Aaberg - 15
Raymond Chase - 19
Zach Harrington - 19
Billy Lucas - 15
Cody Barker - 17
Chantal Dube - 17
Jeanine Blanchette - 21
That is 10 - TEN - young people in such pain that they chose to end their lives. Ten young people who will not be here to share their talents with the world. Ten families who are forever altered by grief and doubt.
TEN is not all. TEN is the number in the news recently.TEN has impact. TEN focuses our attention. But even one is one too many, and we have already heard the story of ONE several times over the years.
The other, happier large number I found while doing research is of the projects, places, agencies, blogs, and organizations (in government and otherwise) trying to understand this terrible problem of bullying, generally, and homophobic bullying, specifically and to help in any number of ways. Cher, at Askcherlock, investigates the reasons for and some possible solutions to the problem.
One project that reaches out by example and with encouragement from many, many people is the It Gets Better Project, started by Dan Savage.
Ellen Degeneres, one among many, many voices, comments on the tragedy of youth and gay suicide:
So today is a good day to wear purple, to mark the passing of young lives, and to reflect and act on this awful and growing problem.