Depression, Bullying Combine For Another Suicide

Jim Burroway

October 17th, 2011

Fifteen-year-old Jamie Hubley, of Ottawa, Ont., killed himself this weekend after struggling with depression and bullying. Jamie was reportedly the only openly gay student at his school, and he wrote on his blog about the difficulties of being gay and with his struggles with depression:

In a post three weeks ago, he said he was depressed, that medications he was taking weren’t working, and that being gay in high school was so hard — a thousand times harder in real life than on the popular television show, Glee, which he loved.

“I hate being the only open gay guy in my school … It f—ing sucks, I really want to end it,” he wrote.

The blog postings are interspersed with angst-filled quotes and startling images of self-harm — gathered from all over the web, as well as other pictures of celebrities, clothing and men kissing passionately.

Last Friday, he posted his final message:

He thanked his family and his friends, but wrote that he just couldn’t take it anymore.

“Im tired of life really. Its so hard, Im sorry, I cant take it anymore.

“Its just too hard,” he wrote, later referencing It Gets Better, a popular online campaign in which millions of people have posted heartfelt video messages directed at young people struggling with their sexuality and acceptance in the world.

“I dont want to wait 3 more years, this hurts too much. How do you even know It will get better? Its not.”

This suicide comes just three weeks after fourteen-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer killed himself. Suicide prevention experts, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Trevor Project, worry that high-profile suicides could trigger what’s known as a “suicide contagion.”  It should be noted that Hubley didn’t reference Rodemeyer in any of his posts, and so it’s not clear that this is the case here. But it should also be noted that there were other, clear warning signs in his posts — particularly with the images of self-harm. Huber’s left arm was already scarred from prior episodes of self-cutting. The blog posts over the past several weeks indicate that he has been thinking about this for quite a while.

Suicide is not the natural end result to bullying. But it does leave vulnerable kids who are already struggling with depression with just one more thing to cope with. Some can’t, and they often can’t or won’t directly reach out for help. Telling gay kids that “It Gets Better” is a great start for those who aren’t struggling with mental illness. But for the others, more is needed.  For more information on general suicide prevention, research and help-seeking resources, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). If you or someone you know needs help, see The Trevor Project’s web site or call the Trevor Lifeline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).

Andrew

October 17th, 2011

This is an awful story, and I’m very sad for the loved ones, and for the pain this kid was in.

No small part of the depression of that age, which I recall acutely, is how hard it is for gay teens to find that someone… and that can also be a numbers game at that age… given how teens come to accept their different sexuality over various times, the ones who understand it earliest do so alone. Taunts and whatever else aside (and there’s a difference between baseline teenagers giving each other grief and the horrendous institutionally supported pervasive harassment and teasing we’ve seen in other cases).

By the way – do we have numbers on lesbian teens committing suicide? Why is it always the boys?

Charles

October 17th, 2011

“By the way – do we have numbers on lesbian teens committing suicide? Why is it always the boys?” – Andrew

Boys can be brutal against gay boys. I go on other political blogs and the venom is always worse against the homosexual male, no the lesbian. The tomboy or lesbian usually gets a pass.

Regan DuCasse

October 17th, 2011

On some levels…testosterone works the same being aggressive in risks and endangering oneself when it comes to suicide.
Males choose more violent types of death. With firearms, suicide by cop or confrontation most of the time.
Crashing vehicles, leaping from tall spaces. Males are just more violent, regardless who it’s directed at.

My heart is so breaking right now…

Lucrece

October 17th, 2011

These kids are getting more precocious by the day.

“Life is too hard, I’m tired of this fucking this and this fucking that.” As if they had any actual meaningful glimpse at what life is really like.

This culture keeps goading kids into fancying themselves adults and making “adult” decisions, and it is killing them. It thrusts adult social culture and aspirations on them in all forms of media. Since when is it alright for a kid to think that he’s ever got the answers?

Andrew

October 18th, 2011

Lucrece – 25 years ago, a kid I knew ordered the bullets he used to take his own life. We had the same comment then – a boy making very adult decisions. Heart-rending.

I would be willing to bet that girls have more “middle solutions” — cutting, overdoses, and other approaches that have a lower mortality rate so that they get the help they ultimately need – that’s been the case with the kids of a couple of co-workers over the years. Girls give a go more often, but boys are the ones who, unfortunately, succeed.

Steven

October 18th, 2011

A few weeks ago someone posted that you were changing the way you reported suicide because of concern about ‘suicide contagion’ or ‘suicide clusters’.

I think the way you’ve written this article is a great example of responsible reporting of a sensitive topic that still requires far more discussion than it receives.

Excellent job Jim.

customartist

October 18th, 2011

Now we shall see what Canada will do about Bullying? _____________

msrowena

October 18th, 2011

Speaking of contagion: does anyone else find the current discussion of bullying, homophobia, and suicide brings back memories of junior high or middle school (I know, the jr. high tells you how old I am)?

I guess I’d forgotten the mind-numbing horror of trudging to school each day, living in fear of ridicule and physical assault, feeling sick to my stomach and almost incapable of walking from class to class. On the one hand, I really cry at times that this is still going on to such a great degree. On the other hand, at least there is some acknowledgment of it now and efforts to deal with it to some degree.

Please understand, this is not to say I’m having some kind of midlife crisis. But I’m just wondering if this hasn’t stirred up a lot of memories for us old timers. I wish I felt there was something more active I could do to help these children out. No one should have to live with the gut-wrenching terror that I, and so many others, had to endure as some sort of awful rite of passage.

?
R

Priya Lynn

October 18th, 2011

Lucrece said “These kids are getting more precocious by the day.

“Life is too hard, I’m tired of this fucking this and this fucking that.” As if they had any actual meaningful glimpse at what life is really like.”.

I’m amazed that you’d make such a comment. Of course these kids know what life is really like – THEY’RE LIVING IT! You can’t take that away from Jamie. I went through a similar time in high school, had the same thoughts. I’m 50 now, I know what life is like now and what it was like then. What I was feeling then was accurate, it was that bad. At that time like Jamie I couldn’t relate to the idea that someday I’d be done with high school and the bullies would be gone and that it would get better. The problem for kids like Jamie is not that they don’t know what life is really like, its that they can’t see beyond the present to a better future. I struggle to think of how this could be made clear to Jamie, and to myself back then but I can’t think of anyway to do it.

Hue-Man

October 18th, 2011

“Now we shall see what Canada will do about Bullying? _____________”

Education is a provincial responsibility with local elected school boards involved in setting and implementing policy. Ontario still has a government-funded separate Catholic school system…

“Spencer Chandra Herbert, New Democrat MLA for the Vancouver-West End riding, said he likes the Roots of Empathy program but was disappointed with [Premier Christy] Clark’s statement because he had expected broader action to address bullying, especially that directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

The government release about the Burnaby event said Clark would announce a first step toward “a coordinated and comprehensive anti-bullying strategy.” Herbert said he had hoped the premier would order all school districts and independent schools that receive public funding to take firm action against homophobia and transphobia and other types of bullying.

“A lot more work needs to be done,” he said, noting the controversy in Burnaby in recent weeks over a proposed LGBTQ policy. Although the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has been pressing all districts to enact LGBTQ policies, only 13 of 60 have done so.”

http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Anti+bullying+program+expanded+schools/4938250/story.html

Andrew

October 18th, 2011

I echo the comments about living under a cloud of stark terror in middle school. I guess my chief question here is why, in an institution which services as the chief vehicle to creating the next generation of citizens, workers, and leaders — institutions which kids are basically required to attend — we have what amounts to a meat-grinder of vulnerable adolescents staffed by adults, many of whom appear utterly disinterested in stopping bullying or physical violence, even when it occurs right in front of them? And that’s before we get into situation in which teachers either lead or partake in the bullying.

I’d like, at a minimum to see a change in the culture around how adults perceive their charges, and what i’m sure amounts to a numbing of their sensibilities with respect to social terrorism.

There’s absolutely no reason kids should be living the Lord of the Flies everyday when adults are standing. right. there.

Charles

October 18th, 2011

“Speaking of contagion: does anyone else find the current discussion of bullying, homophobia, and suicide brings back memories of junior high or middle school (I know, the jr. high tells you how old I am)?”

Welcome to the discussion, I am sixty. I did not experience much bullying at school. When I was off at a summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina in 1965 for six weeks one guy had it in for me in our cabin, making my life hell. The others just stood-by…..even the counselor in the cabin. It was not so much of a gay issue. Even though my cabin mate labeled me as queer.

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