I recently wrote a post about the rising gay teen suicide rate due to bullying in schools. After researching and reading about the increasingly devastating number of LGBT youth who have committed suicide, I attempted to come up with a strong plan that might put an end this tragedy. Through my scouring of the web, I also found a number of people whom have put their own plans to work in an effort to end this same problem.
I proposed that implementing bullying and tolerance programs, such as Safe School Ambassadors, at elementary, middle, and high schools across the country would be a great start to ending gay teen suicides. After all, if tolerance is embedded into a person in their youth, we will eventually witness fewer occurrences of bullying in schools.
Of course, there are other programs and methods intended to decrease suicide rates. The “It Gets Better” project is one such attempt to stop the problem. Dan Savage, the founder of It Gets Better, was overwhelmed with the amount of gay teen suicides that he continuously heard about in the news. After no longer being able to idly stand by and watch, Dan decided to start a project where he could tell these near suicide teens, via Youtube, that life will eventually get better, and that the bullying will cease at some point in the future.
The project saw a huge number of responses and now has its own website. Thousands of videos show all kinds of people talking about how their lives eventually got better after they stuck it out through the bullying they received in school. A number of non-LGBT identified people have contributed to the video collection, too; Obama even joined the ranks to add his own “it gets better” speech.
Dan’s project has gained popularity over the years and has hopefully saved the lives of many LGBT youth whom have thought about attempting suicide. I have to wonder, though, what the next step is. Teens can watch thousands of videos trying to convince them of a light at the end of the tunnel, but who is there to remind them of this when they are being beaten behind the school building after classes, or when they find “faggot” written across their locker for every other student to see? Even video contributor, Eric James Borge, who tried convincing others that it would get better, decided that the pain was too much. Eric took his life when the bullying would not stop.
I think that a project that has gained the attention of millions should consider expanding beyond the internet or other print media. Why not recruit enthusiastic video contributors to reach out to communities through schools, events, libraries, or churches? Instead of simply relating to people through endured abuse, why not try to stop that intentional harm? If bullying was not an issue for the youth of today, they would not need someone to convince them to withstand it. Stop the bullying, and the suicides will go away, too. Tell someone to wait it out, and they might not be strong enough to hold on.
I do think that It Gets Better has affected and saved lives. However, I strongly believe that putting those efforts toward instilling tolerance and stopping bullying instead would be a much more effective approach. Attacking the root of this problem is what will bring the most positive results. Do you agree?