For those who haven’t heard, today is Spirit Day. GLBT people and their straight allies are wearing purple and blogging in memory of the queer teens who have recently committed suicide, most believed to have (at least in part) done so because of anti-gay bullying suffered in schools ill-equipped and/or unwilling to address this kind of torment.
Suicide is a part of Death’s realm that I’ve seen too closely for my own comfort. It’s not only about queer youth, though I respect the desire of the GLBT community to support our youth in this day and age where being gay is becoming acceptable, but not quick enough for those growing up in the midst of the controversy. Plenty of people will be blogging about what it was like growing up gay, and how life changes after school, but I’d like to take a step back and address suicide in general. Gay rights and hate crimes are a hot topic right now, but suicide and depression affects more kids than we truly realize.
During high school I had a friend named Iris. She was the child of a poor, single mom, living in the city. She was too skinny and her hair too thin. She was fond of mini skirts and make up. Kids made fun of her and called her things that I’m sure you can imagine without me repeating. She slit her wrists more than once. I don’t know what happened to her. When we graduated, she still survived, but I can’t help but wonder if she ever tried again, and if she was successful. If you could call it that – successful at suicide? I’d call that a failure, personally. A failure of friends, family, and society.
Today, as you read Spirit Day blogs, dust off your purple clothing, and retweet links of support, please keep in mind all struggling youth and do something for them. Volunteer a few hours a week at a suicide help line, give money to a charitable organization, offer your experience and your shoulder to a child in need. In short, do something. Don’t be all talk – and no, I don’t think that’s what everyone is doing, but yes, several are – take a stand, offer a hand, and remind a teen, gay or straight, that there is help out there.
I miss Iris. I hope she found her way. Suicide lets the bullies win a game they have no business playing. Never give them that satisfaction. By finding our strength and learning ways to be happy despite them, we win. It is, after all, the bullies that are the losers. Let’s keep it that way!