As I was reading posts on FB this morning, there's an outcry that the school administration needs to do something immediately! I'd like to make another suggestion. We all need to do something. While teachers & administrators are a wonderful support, the responsibility cannot be solely theirs to bring about change.
We've quickly become a society that shifts the blame to the "higher ups". I believe the change needs to begin with you and me. I do not know the reasons behind why these boys decided that death was less painful than life, but you don't have to look far to have a few ideas.
Before I go any further, understand something. I have never been nor will I ever be a perfect parent. I have made mistakes, & so have my children. But one thing we talk about time & again in our home is how we treat other people. Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the norm. The hallways of schools, from elementary on up, have become a cut throat environment of competitiveness between our young people. Sit at ANY athletic contest & you can hear grown adults bad mouthing children. There is little tolerance for anyone that does not meet the accepted level of "cool" or the expectations of onlookers. Many of our youth have resorted to proving their worth through the degrading of others through straight out hateful words. Sticks & stones nothing...words hurt & tend to embed themselves into the heart & mind of a child, festering into a twisted reality they begin to perceive as truth.
And it begins at home.
We no longer teach humility; we teach being the best. We no longer teach serving others; we teach entitlement. We no longer teach encouragement; we teach that everyone is our competition. We no longer teach compassion & empathy; we teach judgement.
And thus we have created an environment for ourselves & our children of no love, no tolerance, no acceptance...NO HOPE.
So you might be thinking, "Well, yeah, maybe there's a bit of that going on, but not every person that commits suicide is feeling bullied. Some are mentally ill." Speaking of no tolerance...
Let's face it. There's a HUGE stigma with mental illness. We have not created an environment where people feel safe in saying, "I think I might have a problem. These thoughts are overtaking my every moment. I can't fight them. I'm scared. I need help." Please. It makes people uncomfortable. If someone becomes physically ill, we rally around them; if someone is mentally ill, we don't want to know. We'd prefer they'd just pull themselves up by the bootstraps & fake it til they make it.
What if we became communities of people that fostered an atmosphere of tolerance? What if we instilled in our children humble, empathic hearts that looked to encourage one another? What if people felt safe enough to share their hurts & vulnerabilities? What if we were a people willing to climb in the ditch to help bring someone out?
I'm not trying to be simplistic or naive. Life is hard, but must we be contributors to it or always look for "the administration" to fix it? No. I think we need to take responsibility for how we're raising our children, how we're treating the people we come across every single day, & what our attitudes are towards those who don't seem to be just like us.
"People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."
So what will your legacy be?