Every day, students across the world are bullied, abused and ridiculed by fellow classmates. It can result in innocent people taking their own lives.
Everyone knows about it. It’s been occurring since the first time a caveman was able to use grunts to tell another that he was ugly or stupid and that nobody liked him.
Now bullying victims are looking for a new escape: suicide. Victims are pushed so far by their tormentors that they are willing to go home and kill themselves, leaving loved ones devastated and confused in the wake of the tragedy. Where they once had the safety of their home, new online and technological advancements have made people prey to the hurtful comments at any time and place through texting, e-mail and networking websites like Facebook and MySpace.
Two weeks ago, the quiet town of South Hadley, Mass., was rocked by the suicide of a 15-year-old girl, who was allegedly physically and verbally attacked by a group of nine students. She was just like one of us.
Imagine you know the boy sitting in the corner in class or the girl at the lunch table by herself is being bullied. You don’t tell anyone, you don’t try to stop it. You even throw in a light-hearted joke or two at the student’s expense. Now imagine if he eventually grew so used to the abuse that he believed the insults and thought he was worthless to everyone. Imagine if that girl thought the world would be better off without her.
Who is responsible? Is it the victim? Is it the main tormentor? Is it the bystanders, the administration, the school itself?
Many of the parents and families of the bullied blame the school for not stepping in, especially when faculty members know what is happening. Parents in South Hadley are so outraged that they are asking for resignations by the administration. What could have been done?
Remember in middle school when we had the seminar on the first day of school that showed the signs of bullying? Most people blew it off. By high school, we were expected to be stronger, wiser and able to stand up for ourselves to ignore the insults, rumors and attacks.
But some people can’t handle it. For me, every March 1, I remember someone close to me who couldn’t handle it and committed suicide.
After a tragedy, the people left behind question what they could have done to prevent it, especially in the case of suicide. Instead of just standing by, we could go up to the bully and say something. And if one person says something, maybe that will inspire others to step up.
If you see bullying, or are being bullied, tell someone who can help (preferably someone in a position of authority). Although people might condemn you for ratting them out, it could save a life.
If you have a loved one exhibiting signs of suicidal behavior, call the local Kansas City Suicide Hotline at (913)-281-2299.