Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bullying and Suicide: A Special Message

See that picture? I drew it a long time ago. It's called "Persecution" and it's what bullying looks and feels like. Click on it to see it up close.

I've been seeing commercials and reports for the "It gets better" project. Along with that there is the Trevor Project. Now, these are geared toward teens who are gay or lesbian and that's fine. Bullying is wrong and no one should be pushed to the point of killing themselves. It's a tragedy. I'm not part of that particular walk of life, but I did survive severe bullying myself. That's why I'm coming forward with something to say on the matter.

As far as I'm concerned, bullying someone (especially to death) for their orientation of race, religion or sexual orientation is a hate crime (and should be if it isn't).

I want to point out, if you are reading this and you are considering suicide because of bullying (and you are gay, lesbian, transgender, or questioning) you should contact the Trevor Project at 866- 4 U Trevor (866-488-7386). While you're at it, you should visit http://www.itgetsbetter.org/ (CLICK IT!) and view videos of what people like you have to say. Or try my video:

Now, what if you are being bullied for some other reason? It's no less wrong and every bit as serious. I was bullied simply because I'm different. The bullies thought my odd reactions were hilarious and were willing to do anything to get them. No one knew about my Asperger's syndrome at the time, but that's purely academic. Wrong is wrong. I was poked with pins and pencils, knocked down stairs, shut part way in lockers by groups of kids, and walked home bloody two or three times a week. I had to plan escape routes every day. Junior High was hell. I failed 7th grade, and no wonder. I couldn't walk down the hall, sit in class, or anything without being taunted and tormented. You'd think it would get noticed right? HA! Think again. Let me tell you about the mindset I was dealing with... and it's still out there.

MAJORITY RULES: Teacher says: "Well, David, there are three of them and one of you, so who's story do you think get's believed? You should stop trying to get people in trouble." Bullies are conniving and know how to work the system. Somehow, in a sick twist of reality, majority means honesty. It's a numbers racket considering the bullies as "witnesses" rather than bullies. Three witnesses outweighs one, right? Never mind the fact that I was the child in tears and they were the ones with big ol smiles on their faces. How did that happen?

THE SQUEAKY WHEEL IS THE CULPRIT: So I'm sitting in class and the kid behind me stabs me in the back with a nice sharp pencil. Of course I cry out. Now, because of all the difficulties, I look like the "problem child", so any noise I make is automatically wrong. I get punished for disturbing class. The bully is practically in stitches trying not to fall out of his own desk laughing. Now on the flip side, I've also had kids call out "David stop it!" when nothing was happening, they still believed the bullies. I was thrown out of class a couple of times. Anyone still wondering how I failed 7th grade?

I considered suicide more times than I care to admit, but there it was. As of today, I don't believe in suicide. I have four great kids and a wonderful lady who loves me. I wouldn't have any of those things if I took my own life.

But it's hard. Being bullied makes you feel worthless and helpless. I contributes to conditions of depression. Imagine being in a deep dark hole that you can't climb out of. Passers by know you are there, but they won't help you. Instead, they mock you, laugh at you and occassionally throw something at you. You can't respond, you can't fight back or you are the one who is punished. You may as well be restrained for everyone's twisted pleasure. That's how wrong it feels. Now it's a matter of survival.

Yes there are programs for anti-bullying now, but more are still needed. I get stories all the time about our autistic kids getting bullied while teachers tell them to just suck it up. I'm sure it's the same for any victim no matter why they were bullied.

But, if you are being bullied, no matter who you are; don't take your own life. As they say, it does get better. You can overcome. And if you don't think you could call the numbers above, try 1-800-SUICIDE for the national suicide hotline.

Please know that you are not alone. Bullying has been around a long time and has many survivors and victims. We want you to survive. Pick up the phone, get online, call someone. Make contact! Don't give your life to the bullies. They aren't worth it.

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