I am devastated by the death of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi. If you don't know, Tyler was a bright student at Rutgers University whose life was senselessly cut short. He was outed as being gay on the internet and he killed himself.
Something must be done. This month alone, there has been a shocking number of news stories about teens who have been teased and bullied and then committed suicide; like 13-year-old Seth Walsh in Tehachapi, California. Asher Brown, 13, of Cypress, Texas and 15-year-old Billy Lucas in Greensberg, Indiana. This needs to be a wake-up call to everyone: teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death rate is climbing.
One life lost in this senseless way is tragic. Four lives lost is a crisis. And these are just the stories we hear about. How many other teens have we lost? How many others are suffering in silence? Being a teenager and figuring out who you are is hard enough without someone attacking you.
My heart is breaking for their families, their friends and for a society that continues to let this happen. These kids needed us. We have an obligation to change this. There are messages everywhere that validate this kind of bullying and taunting and we have to make it stop. We can't let intolerance and ignorance take another kid's life.
I want anyone out there who feels different and alone to know that I know how you feel. There is help out there. You can find support in your community. If you need someone to talk to or if you want to get involved, here are some organizations doing great work:
The Trevor Project at 866 4U TREVOR. It's a 24-hour, national help line for gay and questioning teens. You can learn more about The Trevor Project at their website: thetrevorproject.org.
Angels and Doves is a nationwide anti-bullying non profit organization.
Their website is AngelsandDoves.com
The National Center for Bullying Prevention is helping to promote awareness
and teach effective ways to respond to bullying. You can learn more about
them at their website: Pacer.org/bullying
The Matthew Shepard Foundation runs Matthew's Place, an online community and resource center for LGBTQ youth. The website is matthewsplace.com
GLSEN is also a great organization that is working to eradicate bullying and
bias in schools. Their website is: glsen.org
STOMP Out Bullying is focused on reducing bullying and cyberbullying. Find out more on their website: stompoutbullying.org
Things will get easier, people's minds will change, and you should be alive to see it.