What were you like when you were seven years old?
When I was seven, I saw Star Wars, Rocky, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I played non-stop with my Star Wars action figures, sliding Luke's light saber from under his arm and battled Darth Vader.
I cut my own hair and wounded my forehead.
I was in the third grade. I had a crush on my teacher, Mrs. Dunning. She was so motherly and kind...it wasn't so much a "crush" as it was me wishing she was my own mom; mainly because she wasn't deaf.
I had an unexplainable crush on Jack Tripper from Three's Company. I wanted to be a California Highway policeman just like Ponch and Jon from CHiPs.
My parents were still together; I was a delicate child, often suffering from earaches and tonsilitis. Mostly, I was happy; oblivous even.
Again, I ask you to ponder...what were you like?
Yesterday, the Detroit Free Press reported on the latest bullying incident ending in suicide. The unamed child was seven years old.
He hung himself in his bedrooom with a belt from the top bunk of his bunk bed, later discovered by his 14 year-old sister.
He had been bullied and tormented for so many non-essential things...he was the only male child in a family of eight females and his parents had recently split. He endured bullying at school and in his own neighbourhood.
Sexuality doesn't even play a role here...nevertheless, he was beaten down enough that the only way out was to hang himself with his belt.
Police are investigating.
People...bullying is an epidemic.
When I was seven, I don't think I could even fathom, idealize or plan my own death. But this sad, young boy did.
From the Detroit Free Press:
The issue of bullying and its consequences has been a hot topic across the country for the last few years, spawning discussion, books, documentaries and even cartoons on the issue. Wednesday's incident has some questioning how a child so young could commit such an act.
Experts say children that young may not understand the finality of death, but they need to be taken seriously when signs of depression arise.
"Any time a child makes a threat or engages in talking about suicide, it should always be taken seriously," said Polly Gipson, a child psychologist at the University of Michigan and at U-M's Center for the Child and the Family.
"We shouldn't think that because a child is a child, there's no way (he or she) can act on those behaviors."
In 2010, a medical examiner ruled the death of a 6-year-old girl in Oregon a suicide, according to news reports, which say the girl hung herself after her mother sent her to her room.
Of the 36,951 suicides recorded in the U.S. in 2009 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 265 involved children ages 5-14.
What are we going to do?
I, for one, can no longer bear another story of a young person, gay or straight, that feels that suicide is the only solution to their torment.
For the last many months, I've been wondering, "what am I going to do with the rest of my life?"
I will be starting a foundation.
Stay tuned for details.