Teens Have Good Cause to Commit Suicide
That was provocative enough… Feel free to quote me out of context when I run for mayor… For the reccord, the next words in the title should have been “and that’s our fault”.
Now that I got your attention, I wanted to talk to you about Leelah Alcorn in particular, But I also have Rehtaeh Parsons on the back of my mind, as you might have any person who’s suicide has affected you in profound ways.
Specifically, about how we, as adults, gave them pretty damn good reason to commit suicide.
It doesn’t matter what happened in their lives. As adults, we don’t take teens seriously unless they kill themselves. Take your pick – Leelah insisted she was a trans girl, Rehtaeh insisted she was raped, they both were told, by trusted adults, that they were liars, weren’t taken seriously and killed themselves.
Pick any civil right cause of past and present day, and people have committed suicide over it.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ve listened a couple of specialists in suicide prevention, and they all said the same thing :
“People don’t commit suicide because they think their lives are bad, they commit suicide to make the lives of other better.”
Let that sink in for a moment. Why in the world would Leelah believe that she’s making the lives of people better by committing suicide ?
It’s in her damn suicide note : “If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this [the triggering, abusive shit her parents told her] to your kids”
Evidently, she thought that, by being taken seriously, she could save others from the fate she had endured. She’s sending a message. And then, she thought that she would be taken more seriously by committing suicide. Granted, it’s not the only reason why she killed herself, but it can’t be denied that it contributed, otherwise she wouldn’t have talked about it in her note. Not that way – not by directly addressing, pleading parents to save their kids from her fate. She thought she could save these kids.
In fact, had she thought she could be taken seriously in life, she’d have made a mighty fine activist. She would have rallied protests, lead marches. She would even had gone to jail. She would have been bold, heroic.
It’s just too bad that she was right. All along, about everything. She was a girl. She would have never been taken seriously. We would have, at best, nodded politely and moved on. Like we have always done. Like we’re still doing. We think justice isn’t worth our time and effort unless people die. And even then. What’s difficult and necessary accept about Leelah’s suicide is that we have created a world in which her suicide was more meaningful than her life. We need to change that world, and if we do, we prove her suicide to be the right thing to do – but we need to change that world anyway.
We could have teenage heroes. But we demand only martyrs.
So teens kill themselves, they want people to listen to them and we only ever listen to those who are dead.
Can we start listening to survivors, now ?