Tonight I watched the movie "To Save a Life," about the aftermath of a young man shooting himself in the head at school.
I don't live in Mount Vernon, don't know Jacob or his family personally, and it's none of my business.
Except, really, it's everyone's business.
I know it happened in a small town, and it's a taboo subject, and it's uncomfortable to talk about. But that's too bad.
Because we failed him. Every one of us. We have to do better: as schools, as communities, as a nation. How many teenagers have killed themselves the past few months across our country? Here are just a couple:
- "NJ Gov. Wonders How Rutgers 'Spies' Can Sleep at Night After Tyler Clementi's Suicide"
- "Parents: 13-year-old son driven to suicide by ruthless bullying at school"
I just don't want his life, and death, to have been in vain. Right now there is an outpouring of love and compassion for the survivors. My question is, where was everyone's love and support when HE needed it?
I don't know any more than was reported on KCRG or in the newspaper. And that's the problem. There is a person behind that headline, a headline that will fade away before we as a community answer for the fact that we might not have enough access to counseling for kids in school, not enough bullying prevention, not enough WHAT??? How can we prevent other kids from dying if we, as a community, do not require answers to these questions? There are no simple answers for what might have led up to this tragedy, but the worst thing we can do is NOTHING.
In the midst of my anger and sadness that this happened, I ponder the statement his death has made and wonder: who was he sending a message to? So many things had to go wrong for him to arrive at the conclusion that life is too painful to endure.
Jacob did not talk to a friend - he didn't tell a trusted teacher - he didn't stop in the counseling office or call home. He died alone in a bathroom stall, in the middle of a crowded school full of people, and we will never know why he felt that he could not turn to a single one of them for help.
I wonder if the headlines have already faded, if everything is already slipping back into the status quo....
Are we going to get the message????
What is it going to take for people to pay attention? To give a damn? To actually *DO* something about the kids who don't know what to do with the pain they're holding?
Will YOU be a little less of a jerk today, or do you think your actions don't matter?
"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
It's not about finding someone to blame, or pointing the finger (unless, of course, we need to do that...don't know enough). But we've got to wake up.
We all need to look in the mirror and ask the hard questions.
Jacob's not here to say "I'm sorry" to. So I hope we get the message.
"Hero" by Superchick
"No one sits with him, he doesn't fit in
But we feel like we do when we make fun of him
Cause you want to belong, do you go along?
Cause his pain is the price paid for you to belong
It's not like you hate him or want him to die
But maybe he goes home and thinks suicide
Or he comes back to school with a gun at his side
And a kindness from you might have saved his life..."