4-22-11 Enough rope to hang themselves with
Covering the news the past two weeks have been about as gloomy as the weather. Two weeks ago I blogged about our policy on covering suicides, and the reasons why most times we don't. Since that time at least one adult and three more kids have taken their own lives. On Open Mic we had three health professionals on, talking about the link between suicide and depression, and this past week I ran a series of stories about depression, screening and treatment options.
Yesterday, Meredith Viera and her crew from NBC's Today Show did a ten minute segment on the suicide deaths of two 8th grade girls from Lynd and delved into whether they had been bullied. One aspect they very lightly touched on at the end was if the girls were having a gay love affair and if that's why they had been teased.
When I saw that, I was dumb-founded, and I'm not sure why. I guess first of all, I already felt the show was enough of an invasion into the lives of two grieving families...no parents were interviewed, they talked to uncles and cousins. And maybe I'm old-fashioned (which can be a dangerous thing for a journalist who has to cover all the latest trends and social changes) but, do 14-year-old girls really know if they are gay? You have the one girl whose parents are divorcing, moving from Indiana to Marshall MN, she's having weight issues and is self conscious about her red hair. She befriends the other girl who is an athlete, the goalie on her middle-school hockey team. They become such good friends that the Indiana girl starts hyphenating her last name, adding the last name of her new BFF.
Of course all around they are bombarded by TV shows like Glee, every program on the Bravo Network, Lady Gaga and every other celebrity about how great it is to be gay, how we must accept that lifestyle or else we are bigots, and gay marriage must be granted everywhere...you can even have the ceremony performed by a gay Lutheran pastor. But then comes the real world...the world where kids are cruel, especially 8th grade kids. Anyone who is different in any way, whether you have a goofy last name like Cola, or are heavy, or have red hair, etc. subjects you to teasing (bullying?) So these kids buy into the pop tripe that gay is great, get tortured for it by the real kids in the real world, and are so despondent they take their own lives. I think Lady Gaga should pay their funeral expenses.
Maybe the one lesson this whole thing should teach us, whether these poor kids were gay or not, is to realize that what adults chose to do, like be openly gay, can be dangerous to kids who have to exist in what to many can be the worst times in their lives, the 8th grade.