Good afternoon everyone, as you already know, the suicides of Destiny Gleason, Danny Fitzpatrick and Brandy Vela have drawn media attention over the last several months, driving home the sad truth of an epidemic that has gone out of control- the epidemic of suicide among young people due to bullying.I believe we must do what we can to reach out to these unfortunate young souls who are at risk of leaving this world much too soon. And this is how I reach out to these kids.
Here is another excerpt from my book “From Victim to Victor”. It is from Chapter 13 and what you are about to read is something that every person who is or who has ever been a target of bullying must read. Even if you have never been a victim but know someone who is, this is also for you.
“…I cannot stress enough that suicide is totally fruitless and not to mention selfish. All too often, people do not think of the ramifications. When you commit suicide at such a young age, regardless of your reasons, you are cheating yourself out of what could possibly be a wonderful future. You destroy any chance for happiness and fulfillment.
You also cheat the people who love you, setting them up for a lifetime of heartache and the question of “why did he/she do it?” and this will be a question which can never be answered.
You must realize that even though things may seem hopeless now, there is still a high probability that life will eventually change for the better if you just be patient and wait. As long as you are still alive, there is a good chance that things will improve…and improve drastically. However, once you are dead, there is no chance for improvement and there is no coming back. Therefore, anytime you take your own life, you cheat yourself.
Suicide is not an escape, not glamorous and it is not a means of obtaining pity. The bullies or whoever else mistreated you will not feel the least bit sorry about it. They will not care and some might even be happy that you are no longer around, getting complete satisfaction and gratification from your death. They will live on to select another person to torment and denigrate while you’re lying six feet under and being forgotten about.
People will only mourn your loss for a little while, then they will pick up and move on with their lives. Life does go on after you are gone. Although this seems brutal and unfeeling, it is the cold, hard truth and I want to shock a little sense into those of you who may be contemplating on doing something really stupid. That’s what suicide is…stupid.
Before you make the decision to end your life, there are questions that you must ask yourself:
Is suicide something that you want to be remembered for? Is it a legacy that you want to leave behind?
Do you really want to give your bullies the satisfaction of knowing that they had the power to drive you to doing something so rash? Do you want to give them the gratification of knowing that they had the power of life and death over you?
Do you still want to give them that power?
I would hope and pray that you do not!
As it is, they already have enough power over you if you are a target! Why then would you want to give them more of it?
The next time a bully tells you to “go kill yourself”, not only should you ask the bully, but ask yourself who that person is to decide whether or not you deserve to live? In, fact there are several questions to ponder here.
Who is anyone to decide what your worth as a human being is?
Who are they to decide what your value is?
Who are they to decide whether or not you are good enough?
Who are they to decide who or what you are or should be?
And who the hell are they to decide whether you should live or die?
It’s not what they call you or say to you, it truly is what you answer to. Your life does not depend on who does or who does not like you and neither does it depend on who hates you.
I recently went to my twenty-fifth class reunion just a year ago and got to see about thirty classmates, most of whom either bullied me or sold me out at some point or another during school. Although the vast majority of them have grown up by now and were very kind people, there were still maybe two or three out of the whole bunch who still, after all these years, hold resentment and contempt. Although, they never came out and said anything for fear of looking bad in front of the other classmates, I could see it in their eyes when they looked at me and in their facial expressions and body language. And one woman even threw a very subtle dig while sitting right beside me, to my right, during a class meeting just a month prior to the reunion. A dig to which I only responded with a smile and actually got a genuine hug from another classmate.
I did not fire back at her because I decided that this woman was not even worth the energy. I just very gracefully blew her off because it was only further proof that in this world, there are quite a few 40+ year-old prepubescents walking around. Age does not equal maturity.
I now take great pride in myself for responding to such immaturity with class and I had an awesome time at the reunion. I never let the immature actions of a few bad apples spoil it. I continued to be my authentic and awesome self. I socialized and danced! I let my hair down, let myself shine, and ended up having a wonderful time and being very glad I went!
The point to my reunion story is this: Bullying does not stop after high school graduation. All through life, you will encounter scores of ignorant people and I feel it incumbent upon me to prepare you for this. While you are still young, you must learn now how to let the ignorance of a few narrow-minded people roll off your back or you will be in for a very difficult life ahead.
In life, there will always be a handful of people who will never approve of you. But always know this: it is THEIR issue, not yours. I will say it again:
THEY are the ones who have the issue, not you! So never allow yourself to be sucked into thinking that there is something wrong with you just because people refuse to see your worth. There is nothing wrong with you.
Never give anyone the power to determine how you feel about yourself, whether or not you have fun, or what mood you should be in. And for sure, never give them the power to cause you to die by your own hand.
You may be called the foulest, most horrible names in the English language but it does not mean that you are those names. Remember that bullies are LIARS! As long as you have the determination to stay alive and stay true to yourself and to your own heart regardless of what others may think of you, you are anything but those names! You are strong, resilient, determined, intelligent…you are AWESOME! Because you refuse to be brought down!
But if you commit suicide, then you only cause the people who called you the above names to think that they were right about you all along!
Suicide is for quitters! And you are not a quitter! You are a fighter and if you remain tough long enough, you will emerge a winner! I can almost guarantee it!
I fought like hell to hold on to my pride, dignity, and self-respect! And most importantly, I LIVED through it and eventually things changed for the better!
I lived to write a book, which is designed to help you and give you strength. This book is my way of turning what was once a very negative experience into a positive outcome!
So don’t give up! Don’t quit! As long as you keep on living, you keep on fighting and as long as you keep on fighting, you have already won. You just do not know it yet.
In hindsight, I never should have resorted to an attempt to take my own life. Instead, I should have wanted to live…to stick around, even if for no other reason than to piss them off.
If I had it to do over, I would have worked on me. I would have gotten busy practicing and honing my talents and would not have been afraid to display those talents. I would have been entering talent shows and writing contests…and winning all sorts of prizes! I would have begun striving toward self-betterment and a deeper understanding of not only what was happening to me but also of the world and people around me.
Suicide is never the answer…never! I did not realize then, that I was playing right into my bullies’ hands and giving them exactly what they wanted. My bullies were already out to destroy me and I was making it that much easier for them to do so.
Now that I know better, there will be a cold day in Hades before I will ever let another person drive me that far down! Instead, I will only be that much more determined to keep living and enjoying the good things in life! There is beauty in life if you look for it.
Being bullied should be a motivator. It should make you that much more determined to live, and to live a happier, more peaceful and successful life. Spend as much time as possible doing the things you enjoy and being around the people who love you the most…positive people who lift you up and make you feel awesome…caring people…loving people! The happier you are, the less you will be affected by the ignorant actions and words of any bully.
Always look your best and do your best at any task. Excel in your studies, talents and anything else that you do. Do what you have to do to feel good about yourself just as long as it does not cause harm to another person.
Do not wallow in self-pity no matter how bad things get. Sure, it’s okay to feel emotion anytime someone hurts you. So get angry, feel sad, cry, beat a pillow, do whatever you can to let those emotions out when you feel them because you certainly do not want to hold it in. But do not dwell on those emotions…never stay in that hurtful place for long because it can be a real confidence killer if you do.
Be a positive person and interest yourself in other people and what is going on in their lives. People will love you if you are genuinely interested in them. Be kind (without being a pushover of course) and meet new people, being interested in them. Let them talk about themselves, their hobbies and interests.
While they are talking, listen with your eyes focused on them. Be genuinely interested in anything they talk about and get excited about their dreams, being happy for them when they achieve those dreams and wishing them well. People love someone who is excited about them. Smile at and greet people, calling them by name. By doing this, you will eventually make lots of friends and live down a bad reputation caused by bullies, past or present.
I say this because it happened for me. I no longer have the reputation I once had, or at least it does not stick like it used to. I have so many friends today that it’s hard for me to keep up with all of them. I have also won over many of my former bullies from school. That’s right. Several of the people who once bullied me in school are now some of my closest friends!
And how did I manage to turn everything around and live down the horrible reputation I once had?
I did it by taking my focus off of me and acquiring a genuine interest in others and how their lives were going. I did it by replacing hate, contempt and bitterness with love, acceptance and forgiveness. I began to love myself and see my own worth as a person. I started to value myself and quit worrying about what others thought of me. I made doing the right thing my goal.
Did it make everyone like me? Of course not. However, I did not and still do not concern myself with what others think or how they act. Instead, I concern myself with how well I made someone else feel about themselves. Did I put a smile on the face of someone who would otherwise still be sad? Did I make a difference in the life of at least one person today? Did I help restore hope in someone whom would otherwise not have any hope at all? Was I the difference between someone deciding whether or not to take their own life? I always hope so.
Do everything that you can possibly do to build your confidence and do it constructively. Take risks by meeting new and interesting people….”