Last week the body of a 13 year of boy was found in the woods near an adjacent town. The sister of a friend of mine went to the same school as he did. 2 steps away. So close but still a total stranger. Even though I didn't know him it still shook me. The death of a 13 year old child is never a good thing. Immediately people started speculating what had happened. Murder or suicide? I talked to several people about this. I was told that he was a singular boy, quite different from other children his age, and,therefor, was bullied. There were also speculations on whether or not he was gay. But, there were also a lot of witnesses who claimed they saw him going into the woods with a man. I heard the boy was covered in bruises and therefor it must be murder. That he had bruises in his neck that looked like he had been choked. I don't know if that is true. All I know is that, 2 days ago, the police confirmed it was a suicide. His mother and sister are getting support. There was no mention of help being provided for his father who claimed it was impossible that it was suicide.
I don't know what really happened but fact remains that a young boy felt he had no other option then to end his life. I remember when I was 13 and felt the same way. I was about that age when a girl at my school committed suicide. I didn't know her well, only spoke to her a few times, but respected her greatly. She was one of the first openly lesbian girls I ever met. When she died part of me felt sad, because I didn't believe the world was a better place without her. Part of me felt angry, because the world had failed to help her. Part of me felt jealous, because she had done something I had thought about a lot but never had the courage to do. And part of me felt a little proud of her for being brave enough to take control over her own death and with that her life like that.
About 20 years later another one bites the dust. And I don't know why. I made it. I'm okay now, mostly. I don't consider suicide an option anymore though sometimes I regret not having succeeded at it because life can still get to me. At times like this it does. I know I'm not the only one.
"The Suicide Prevention Resource Center synthesized these studies and estimated that between 30 and 40% of LGBT youth, depending on age and sex groups, have attempted suicide." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_among_LGBT_youth
I find these statistics staggering. That many? Really? Of course, I don't know for sure if this boy was gay. I didn't know him. But LGBT youths are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide then heterosexual youths. Those are the odds. You do the math.
The COC that I have told you about has an education program. They provide a sort of workshop at schools to teach about diversity, bullying and LGBT issues. The Trans*-initiative will be providing a training for the educators on trans issues so I decided to come along and see how it works, how the kids respond, what kind of questions they have etc. so I knew what the educators are facing when standing in front of a class. It was an amazing experience. In the end someone always tells his/her own story so I decided to step up right away as the kids had loads of questions concerning transgenders. The kids were great! I was really blown away. I had so much fun. It felt great. I felt like I had done something worthwhile that would help make this world a better place. But clearly, it was not enough. I don't blame myself for the death of this one child. I blame all of us for the deaths of so many children. We say we have come a long way in accepting people who are different. That's great. But it doesn't help these kids that are getting bullied for bing different, these kids that are not being accepted by their own parents, these kids that feel like they have no place in this world. 20 years of progress and still a family has to bury their son, their brother because this boy did not feel safe, did not feel loved, did not feel strong enough to fight this immense force around him that would not accept him for who he was.
This may sound silly but I have literally cried for this boy. Not just for him, for all of us. And I probably will cry every time I hear something like this has happened. I hope this doesn't mean I will continue to cry the rest of my life. I know I'm not the only one who is upset about this. We all should be. But what do we do? The kids at his school are wearing colored pants for a few weeks, because he used to do so. They have no idea what kind of hypocrites that makes them. And how pointless it is if they don't change the way they treat each other. We need to educate our children. To be able to do that, we need to educate ourselves and ask ourselves some tough questions. Are you really open to people who are different from you? Do you accept and respect other people? Do you? Really? Or do you judge them behind their backs and think they won't notice? Are you being honest with yourself on this? Do you practice what you preach? The only way we can change this world is by first being honest with ourselves, change what we need to, and then help others gather the information they need to be able to find acceptance of and respect for those who are different from them.
If you feel like you want to do something more and have the time, check the website to become a volunteer and help educating our children: http://www.cocleiden.nl/nieuws/voorlichtsters-gezocht. One person CAN make a difference. Why shouldn't it be you?
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