Suicide is Never a Solution (Part 4)

(Continued from Part 3…)

In the previous segments of this post, I discussed how you should never let it push you to take your own life despite how beat down by bullying you may feel. For this last segment, I’d like to give you advice on how to overcome those feelings.

First, be positive and take charge!

Make their bullying your motivator and become that much more determined to live—to live a happier, more peaceful, and more 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 the ignorant actions and words of any bully will affect you.

Always look your best—for yourself, not for anyone else. Always do your best at any task—so you know, no matter how it turns out, that it represents all you can do—excel in your studies and pursue your interests and talents, whether art, music, sports or anything else that you do well. Do what makes you feel good about yourself, just as long as it causes no harm to another person.

It’s okay to feel emotion when someone hurts you, but don’t get wrapped up in self-pity, no matter how bad things get. Be angry. Be sad. Cry, beat a pillow—do whatever you need to let those emotions out because you certainly don’t want to hold them in. But never dwell on them. Get out of that hurtful place as soon as you can to protect your confidence and self-worth.

Be a positive person! Be kind (without being a pushover, of course). Meet new people. Interest yourself in others and what’s going on in their lives—folks love you if you are genuinely interested in them. Let them talk about themselves, their hobbies and interests and listen to them. While they are talking, listen with your eyes focused on them. People love someone excited about them.

Show genuine interest in what they tell you about and get excited about their dreams. Be happy for them when they achieve those dreams and wish them well. Smile and greet people, calling them by name. Doing this will eventually make you lots of friends and live down any bad reputation caused by bullies.

That’s how I did it. I no longer have the horrible reputation I once had. I have such an awesome little circle of friends today and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve also won over a few of my former bullies from school. That’s right. Some of the people who once bullied me in school are now some of my closest friends!

I did it by taking my focus off of myself and acquiring a genuine interest in others. I did it by replacing hate, contempt, and bitterness with love, acceptance, and forgiveness. I did it by loving myself and seeing my own worth as a person. I quit worrying about what others thought of me, and I made my goal to do the right thing always.

Did that make everybody like me? Of course not. But instead of concerning myself with what others think or do, I focus on how good I make others feel about themselves. Did I put a smile on someone’s face, someone who would otherwise be sad? Did I make a difference in the life of at least one person today? Did I restore someone’s hope? Was I the difference in someone deciding against taking his or her own life?

I hope so!

None of this will be easy by any stretch. But build yourself up by building up others. Meet new and interesting people and connect with them. You’ll be surprised how having those people in your life will push aside your experiences with the bad and turn things around for you. You have too much to experience and too much good to offer. So get out there, do your best, make a difference, and enjoy each and every day for the gift it is!

Suicide is Never a Solution (Part 3)

(Continued from Part 2…)

Rest assured. I understand what it’s like to be driven to such a dark and awful place. When I was young, bullied, and felt completely alone, I attempted to take my own life. It was one of the most terrible things I’d ever considered. So, I want you to know I really do understand your pain and your desperation to get out of the corner you feel your bullies have backed you into.

When I think about that time in my life, I get mad about it- damn mad- and not only at my bullies for driving me to such a place, but mad at myself for allowing them to do it. I can’t even pretend it’s all their fault.

In hindsight, I never should have made that attempt on my own life. All that would’ve happened was that the people (bullies) who called me names and thought I was stupid, weak, and beneath them would have concluded that they were right. Instead, I should have wanted to live, if for no other reason than to piss them all off.

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 and publish four books and begin a blog, which is only my way of turning what was once a very negative experience into a positive outcome, and help people who are suffering as I did.

If I had it to do over, the most important change would be that I would have worked on myself. I would have gotten busy practicing and honing my talents, and I would’ve been unafraid to display those talents. I would have entered talent shows and writing contests, winning all sorts of prizes! I would have begun striving toward self-improvement and a deeper understanding of both what was happening to me and of the world and people around me.

If you’re reading this and you’re in the same gawd-awful place I was then, let me tell you something: You are not a terrible person! You are a fighter, and if you remain tough long enough, you will emerge a winner! I can guarantee it! So don’t give up! Don’t quit! As long as you keep living, you keep fighting. And as long as you keep fighting, you’ve already won.

You just don’t know it yet.

Suicide is never the answer. Never! I didn’t realize then that I was playing right into my bullies’ hands. I was giving them exactly what they wanted— they were already out to destroy me, and I was making it easier for them.

Now that I know better, there will be a cold day in Hades before I’ll ever let another person drive me into that rabbit hole again. Instead, I will only be that much more determined to keep living, counting my blessings, and enjoying the good things in life.

There is beauty in life if you look for it.

(Continued in Part 4…)

Suicide is Never a Solution (Part 2)

As stated in Part 1, suicide not only cheats you out of all the great possibilities ahead of you, it hurts the people who love you and gives your bully the final say over you. Today, I’d like to expand on who you let have say over you.

It’s not what anyone calls you or say to you. It’s what you answer to. Your life does not depend on who does or who does not like you. Neither does it depend on who hates you.

And bullying has no age-limit.

For example, I went to my twenty-fifth class reunion about six years ago after one of the few classmates, who had been decent, convinced me to go.

There, I saw about thirty classmates, most of whom either bullied me or sold me out at some point when we were in school together. Although a few of them have grown up and become decent people, there were still several who, after all these years, still held resentment and contempt.

Although they never came out and said anything (for fear of exposing themselves), I could clearly see the blatant disdain in their eyes, facial expressions, and body language. One woman went as far as to fire off a zinger while sitting right beside me. Keep in mind that we were all in our mid-forties.

How did I respond, you’re wondering? With a smile, of course, before receiving a genuine hug from another classmate in the room.

More mature and far stronger than I was in high school, I could have fired an evil shot of my own back at her. But why would I? Rather than waste any energy on her, I gracefully blew her off, only proving that I was above her pettiness. Sadly, forty-something adolescents do exist. Age does not equal maturity.

I was the adult, and she was the petty high school girl looking for someone to bully to make herself feel more important. I take great pride in myself for responding to such immature ugliness with class. And I had an awesome time at the reunion! I continued to be my authentic self. I socialized and danced! I let my hair down, let myself shine, and ended up being very glad I went!

What I didn’t do was let a few nasties spoil the reunion for me. They were only proving their ignorance.

The point of this story is that in this world and all through life, you will encounter ignorant, unpleasant, and downright sadistic people. I want to prepare you for this.

You must learn to let the ignorance of closed-minded people roll off your back. There will always be people who won’t approve of you and that’s okay.

Remember. It’s their issue, not yours. If it isn’t you, it will be someone else. Don’t take what they say and do as the truth about yourself. Never allow yourself to be sucked into thinking that there is something wrong with you just because people refuse to see your worth. Again, the problem is theirs, not yours.

They may call you the foulest, most horrible names in the English language. So what? It doesn’t mean that you are what they say. Remember that bullies are liars! You are strong, resilient, determined, intelligent- and they don’t like it because you remind them of what they’ll never be.

Refuse to let them bring you down. Never give anyone the power to determine how you feel about yourself. And please don’t give them the power to cause you to end your own life.

You don’t want to miss out on beautiful life events that are waiting for you. And you don’t want to miss how truly pathetic some of your bullies will act at your high school reunion. It’ll be quite entertaining.

You can have a great future ahead no matter your age, your station in life, and how people receive you. As long as you’re alive, there’s always a chance that everything will get better. Don’t stop believing it.

(Continued tomorrow in Part 3…)

Suicide is Never a Solution

The suicides of targets at school and in the workplace have gotten lots of media attention in the last decade, driving home the sad truth of an epidemic of suicide among people due to bullying and abuse. What I cannot stress enough is that suicide is totally fruitless and counter-productive. People who take their own lives seldom think of the ramifications because, understandably, all they want is for the pain to stop.

Here’s where I want to expose some sad truths behind it:

When you commit suicide, not only at a young age, but any age, you cheat yourself out of the possibility that things will eventually get better- the possibility of happiness, of fulfillment, and of any chance at a wonderful future. You also cheat the people who love you, setting them up for a lifetime of heartache and the years and years of the nagging question, Why? A question they will ask for a lifetime and never have answered.

Please realize that even though things may seem hopeless now, life can and most likely will eventually change for the better. As long as you are still alive, things can improve- and they can improve drastically. But taking your own life takes that chance away forever. Once you’re gone, there’s no coming back. You miss out on all those possibilities.

Suicide is not an escape. It’s not glamorous. And it is certainly not a way to obtain sympathy. The bullies and whoever else mistreated you won’t feel the least bit sorry about it. Some, in fact, some might even be happy that you’re no longer around. The worst of them will even feel satisfied that they could control you so far as to end your own life! And you know what they’ll do then? Select someone else to torment and denigrate while you’re six feet under and forgotten. Some people are truly evil and sadistic.

People will mourn you, but only for a little while. Then they’ll move on with their lives— Life will go on after you’re gone. If this seems brutal and unfeeling, it’s because the truth is cold and brutal and I want to shock you into realizing that the petty and childish people who bully you just aren’t worth dying over.

Before you make the decision to end your life, ask yourself these questions:

Do you really want to give your bullies the satisfaction of knowing that they had the power of life and death over you?
Do you want to give them that power?

I would hope and pray that you don’t! They already have enough power over you. Don’t give them any more of it!

If a bully says, “go kill yourself,” ask the bully and ask yourself who that person is to decide whether you should live or die? In fact, think about these questions:

Who are they to decide your worth as a human being?
Who are they to decide whether or not you’re good enough?
Who are they to decide who or what you are or should be?
And who the hell are they to decide that you should die?

(Continued later in Part 2…)

Bullied? Don’t Give Up, You Have So Many Reasons to Live!

If you are a person being bullied and are considering suicide, this message is for you! Please hold on. Stay strong. Continue the fight.

Know that you deserve love and friendship just as everyone else does. Know that you are just as good as everyone else. Above all, rest assured that life will get much better! Instead of thinking of reasons why you should take your own life, think of reasons why you shouldn’t. There are so many reasons to keep living.

Let me put this another way. If you resort to suicide, you will cheat yourself out of the possibility of one day overcoming your present circumstances and out of so many exciting firsts. You will cheat yourself out of so many wonderful years that lie ahead.

If you’re under 16, you will cheat yourself out of driving a car for the very first time and let me tell you! That feeling of sliding in the driver’s seat, behind the wheel of a car and your hands on the steering wheel for the very first time? There’s nothing like it! It’s one of the most liberating experiences!

You will also miss out on prom and high school graduation, another one of the most exciting and hopeful times of life.

You will also forfeit the magic of falling in love and the joy of marrying your soulmate.

And I can tell you that love is one of the most intoxicating and fulfilling experiences life has to offer!

And lastly, you’ll forgo the beautiful experience of having your first baby!

I want you to imagine yourself, five or ten years into the future: You’re married to your spouse and you’ve become a new parent. You’re holding that precious little life in your arms for the first time and gazing into that precious, tiny face!

You’re now able to have a life beyond your own! You’re holding that soft, tiny body against your chest and watching it sleep against you! I can’t explain what that feels like or the love and joy that goes with it!

You have so many firsts…so many magical and beautiful moments yet to experience and enjoy, so much beauty yet to behold and so many awesome people, potential friends and family yet to meet!

motivational inspirational

However, if you die by your own hand, you’ll cheat yourself out of all of it! On the other hand, if you’re patient and you keep fighting, life will reward you with such beautiful moments!

Another thing I want you to consider is that if you give up, the bullies will automatically win! That’s right! Your bullies will win and you will lose! Do you really want to let them win? Do you really want to give them such an easy victory? Think about it for a minute. Really think!

As long as you are alive, there’s always a chance that things will improve…and improve drastically! But once you’re dead, that chance dies with you and there’s no coming back! Death is final and there are no do-overs! So, if you ever consider suicide, I beg you! Talk to a close family member and if you can’t talk to a family member, talk to someone! A loved teacher, a trusted friend, a stranger- someone!

And give yourself a chance! Give the people who love you a chance! Give love a chance! You won’t be disappointed!

I promise you that you’re worth it! If you continue to fight for yourself, I can guarantee that there will come a day when you will look back on this moment and thank yourself. You will look back and be glad that you fought the good fight and stayed alive. I’m living proof!

You are worth fighting for! You are worth living for!

I Can’t Find The Words of Comfort for Anyone Affected by Bullycide

positive peace candle

Since I’ve been advocating for the bullied, I’ve met and talked to so many families- parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, spouses, children, cousins and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide. I’ve read, heard about, and listened to their heartbreaking stories. I’ve watched them cry, and I’ve often struggled to find the words to tell them how my heart breaks for them. What are the right words to say to someone who has suffered so significant a loss?

I’ve listened to stories from grieving parents who have lost a child to bullying and suicide. While they told me the story of the events which led up to their child’s death, I could hear the anguish in their voices. I could sense the many questions which continue to flood their minds that may never be answered! I could feel the injustice of it all, and let me tell you; it shook me to my core!

I can’t help but feel a wide range of overwhelming emotions- heartbreak and empathy for the surviving parents and family, intense anger toward the bullies who pushed that child over the edge and disgust at the school and school district, who did nothing to help, or worse, only intensified the child’s suffering. I feel nothing but rage and contempt for a system that failed this young person and their family and at the people in power who were in a position to help the poor young man or lady but didn’t!

Although I have lost a spouse to suicide and know what it is to experience the loss from it, I realize this: The loss of a spouse is terrible and heart-wrenching. Yes. But it isn’t quite the same as losing a child.

Child abuse with the eye of a young boy or girl with a single tear crying due to the fear of violence or depression caused by hunger and poverty and being afraid of bullying at school.

I try to put myself in the parent’s shoes, but it’s unbearable. I cannot imagine what a parent goes through. The unanswered questions, having dreams of their child’s future, disappear! Not long ago, I looked into the eyes of one grieving mother, and I wanted to cry but managed not to. I wanted to be strong for her because she needed me to be!

My oldest son went through a period of bullying, so I know this could just as easily have been him years ago. And I honestly don’t know if I could have held up as well as this mother has!

Try to imagine having that baby you once carried for nine months- the baby you felt move and kick inside your belly- ripped from your life forever! Imagine losing that precious, tiny creature, you once held for the first time in the hospital, whose sweet little face you gazed lovingly on, and were unable to take your eyes off of!

FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 file photo, pallbearers wearing anti-bullying T-shirts carry the casket of Rebecca Sedwick,12, to a waiting hearse as they exit the Whidden-McLean Funeral Home in Bartow, Fla. One of two teenage girls charged with stalking Rebecca Sedwick, a Florida classmate who complained of being bullied before her suicide no longer faces any criminal counts, her attorney said Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco, File)

I cannot fathom the despair of having to bury the child I was sure would someday bury me! Understand that this goes against the natural order of things! I cannot imagine the total shock and disbelief- that feeling of being kicked in the gut that goes with such a loss! And I struggle to find the words to comfort any parent who has lost a child to bullycide!

What are the right words? How do you communicate to a grieving family member how much you hurt with them and how much you long to ease their suffering and wish you could? And how you wish that there was some way- SOME way you could bring that loved one back to them.

If you have a heart as I do, you want to reach out and hug that person! You want to hold them. You want to console them. You want to take away their pain. But anything short of doing the impossible, you know, will never be enough to ease their suffering.

Sympathy card with burning candle and rose on open book

Like me, you try to imagine how you’d feel if it were your child, but you can’t. You can’t bear the mere thought crossing your mind. But these families have lived it, and they continue to live it every day. Understand that this is a massive loss that this mother, this father, this sibling, this grandparent will carry for the rest of their lives!

Nothing will ever be the same for them again. Realize that this is a new normal (if that’s what you want to call it) that they will never be able to adjust to. Every day from here on will be another day of struggle- another day of fighting to keep it together- another day to act like you’re okay because you’re afraid of overwhelming the people around you. How long can these broken parents keep up the charade?

Again, words can never say how my heart breaks for them. All I can do is be there for them and listen as I struggle to find the words of support and compassion they so need to hear.

Maybe the reason I struggle for the right thing to say is that there are no words! There are no words that could ever quell the grief of a loss so heavy and so devastating! No words can ever provide complete consolation or comfort. And no words can ever bring justice to the loved ones left behind.

To all, who have lost a family member- a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, especially a child, to suicide or bullycide, know that I’m here for you. It doesn’t matter if we know each other or are total strangers. And even though I struggle to find the words to tell you, rest assured that I care. My heart cries with you, and I have the utmost love, sympathy, and compassion for you!

You are always in my thoughts and prayers!