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Posts Tagged ‘teen suicide’

Wear a pink shirt today — and help stop bullying!

In behavior, children, Crime, culture, education, family, life, news, parenting on February 29, 2012 at 12:18 am
English: Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, th...

Image via Wikipedia

If you’re not Canadian, you might not be wearing a pink shirt today. You should!

Here’s why…

David Shepherd and Travis Price, two very cool guys whose names should be household words as avatars of compassion, saw a new kid at their Nova Scotia High school get bullied on his first day of school in 2007 — for daring to wear a pink polo shirt. David and Travis went right out and bought every pink shirt they could find and persuaded other kids in their school to wear one in solidarity with the victim — and to mock the bullies.

If only every person who sees someone being bullied mustered the bravery to do something equally loving and supportive. How different, and better, our world would be!

This year an estimated 13 million children will be bullied in the United States.

(That’s three times the population of Ireland. Nice.)

Pink Shirt Day — Feb. 29 — is now a national, powerful, highly visible movement in my native Canada, and a clear way to show support for, and solidarity with, those whose lives are being made a living hell by the weak and cowardly wretches who taunt them.

I was bullied mercilessly in my middle-class Toronto high school for three years. I’d arrived, halfway through Grade 10, to a cliquish place where everyone had attended the same elementary and middle schools together. A trio of boys decided to make me the object of their daily derision.

Their tactics included putting a dog biscuit on my desk, barking at me and shouting “Doglin!” down those echoing hallways. I cried (never publicly), over-ate, shouted back, felt ugly for many years afterward.

No one in authority at my school — fully aware of this behavior and its effects on me — did a thing.

I wrote about this for USA Today, an essay that still draws reaction. A few months ago, a total stranger living upstate from me in a small town called me out of the blue — to ask my advice for her young son, being bullied by a young girl (!) whose parents (of course) hold positions of authority and who knew she could keep getting away with it.

They are suing their school officials and their son has watched these adults line up to lie and cover their taxpayer-paid asses. Talk about an education.

I don’t have kids, but I do know what it feels like to be singled out for abuse, to have adults turn a blind eye, to have fellow students snicker in voyeuristic pleasure — sighing with relief it isn’t them.

Lee Hirsch, another former bullying victim, has made a new documentary,  Bully, in theatres March 30. I applaud his commitment to making this film and everyone associated with it.

If you know anyone, anywhere, being bullied, do the right thing.

Step up! Speak out!

Bullies are monsters.

Stop one today.

NYU's Suicides — Nine, As Of Yesterday

In education, Medicine, news on November 4, 2009 at 11:46 am
bobst library

Interior of Bobst Library, NYU. Image by davidsilver via Flickr

What is it about NYU? Or being a student there? Or living in New York? Or is NYU just really unlucky among the many colleges filled with stressed-out or clinically depressed students?

Tuesday, a 20-year-old student Andrew Williamson-Noble, whose family lives in Irvington, NY, a wealthy suburban town north of the city, jumped to his death from the same place so many others have favored, a high floor of the Bobst Library on Washington Square Park. After two students jumped to their deaths at the library a month apart in 2003, the school installed plexiglass barriers to the open sections overlooking the atrium.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students and the third leading cause of death among all youth 15–24 years old. In the U.S., only accidents and homicides claim more young lives.

NYU says it will now block elevator access to the upper floors after hours. The student jumped from the 10th floor around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Here’s the piece of the story that puzzles me: Toronto has had a public library since the 1970s with a similar atrium and floors high enough to jump from. I’ve never heard of someone committing suicide there — there are likely many other facilities with similar physical designs and layouts. Is NYU’s latest tragedy a horrible combination of relatively easy access to a lethal option and a vulnerable population?  If so, what’s the solution? Is there one?

Here’s The Times’ story.

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