When It Doesn't Get Better: More Bullying, Another Suicide
Jamey Rodemyer loved Lady Gaga. He was a high school freshman, just 14 years old. He believed that it would get better -- it meaning his life and the bullying he experienced both before and after he came out as bisexual. On Monday morning, Jamey was found dead of an apparent suicide, one more in a rash of unnecessary deaths caused by the hatred and intolerance of others. My heart breaks for his parents, for those who loved him.
Perhaps one of the saddest things about this story is that just this past May, Jamey participated in the "It Gets Better" campaign by posting his own story via video on YouTube. He wanted to believe it was getting better and wanted to encourage others that it would as well.
As he spoke near the end of his video about the friends who supported him after he came out as bi, he said, "They don't ever want me to die." Unfortunately the voices of those who bullied Jamey spoke louder than those who supported him. Not only do we have his story in his own words on YouTube, but his blog spoke to both his pain and the torment of his bullies as they left comments like this one through his Formspring account:
I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!”
Would you be able to keep the faith and believe that it gets better if someone told you that? That they wouldn't care if you died... that no one would? Would you have been able to listen to your parents through the noise and cackling of others, to believe them that maybe this might end someday?
The truth is that people do care about Jamey and the others like him -- the ones who have already lost the battle and the ones who are desperately trying to hold on to the belief that someday, somehow and in some way it will get better. There are so many who care.
Anderson Cooper covered the story, as he's done in the past with other horribly sad bullying-based suicides. He pulls together some great information.
What pains me about that Anderson Cooper's coverage is the terrible short-sightedness of California Christian Coalition's Robert Newman when he said, "I hardly think that bullying is a real issue in schools. There's no reason to have a special bill for, let's say, less than 3% of the population." It's mindsets like that, of course, that let other people suffer needlessly. If something is wrong, it needs fixed. If our children are taking their own lives because other children are pushing them past their breaking points, something needs to be done. It's not a hard concept.
Jamey's parents are speaking out -- which seems ... amazing? Encouraging? Heart-breakingly necessary? They want what happened to their son to stop. And I want to hug them. Hard. Hard.
A quote from this amazing mom:
We're convinced he had a purpose on this planet, and it was to touch as many people as he could. [...] I think that was my son's #1 mission in life, why he was put here a short time, was to get that point out. And if I have to carry that for him, I will.
We stand with you, Mom. We stand with you.
We've talked a lot about bullying over the years here on BlogHer, more so over the past year when the losses of these beautiful young people have forced us all to stop and think. It's sad, really, that bullying can't always be reported and that our children are forced to live as targets of hate. Sadly, I'm sure we'll talk more about bullying in the future, because this problem won't go away on its own.
If you're looking for resources on what to do if your child (or you, our younger readers) is being bullied, please check out the tips our Contributing Editor wrote on her post about bullying last year.
Lastly, I encourage you to listen to the words of Jamey (to his beloved Lady Gaga) about his thoughts and beliefs and some of his story. The video includes tweets that have come up since Jamey died -- via the hashtag #RIPjameymonster. As a warning, I cried.
Have your children been bullied? How have you handled it? Were you scared that it would escalate to something as horrific as this news? What do you have to say to those who believe bullying isn't a "real issue" in our schools?
If you've written a post against bullying, made an "It Gets Better' video or written a tribute to Jamey, feel free to share them here. And head to the Stop Bullying: Speak Up app on Facebook to get more resources.