Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old California middle school student who hung himself on Sept. 19, passed away in the hospital on Tuesday. Seth had been a victim of school bullying for many years because of his sexual orientation. He had attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself in a tree in his backyard. According to tehachapinews.com, Seth’s mother Judy said:
“He was different. He knew he was different. He was a very loving boy, very kind. He had a beautiful smile. He liked fashion, his friends, talking on the phone. He was artistic and very bright.” A memorial service to celebrate Seth’s life is scheduled for Oct. 1 at the Tehachapi First Baptist Church.
Seth is not alone; there have been other recent suicides that stemmed from brutal school bullying. On Sept. 9, 15-year-old Billy Lucas of Greensburg, IN, took his own life after dealing with years of violent school bullying. He hung himself in his grandmother’s barn. Greensburg High School Principal Phil Chappel told WTHR-TV that no one had been punished for picking on Lucas, and that bullying had not even hit their radar.
An 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman, Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge on the night of Sept. 22. He was humiliated when his sexual encounters with another male were broadcast live on the Internet through his roommate’s hidden camera. Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, was arrested and charged with two counts of invasion of privacy; he was released on $25,000 bail.
On Sept. 23, 13-year-old Asher Brown shot himself in the head with his step-father’s 9mm Beretta. His mother and step-father announced that over the past 18 months, they have been reporting to school officials the bullying their son was enduring at school; no one ever stepped in to investigate the incidents.
I can only hope that the death of Seth and all of the other young people across the country will stand out and raise eyebrows to this serious issue of school bullying. Parents have to address this issue with their children, define what bullying is and how it can be prevented. Parents whose children are victims of bullying need to show support to their children and take the issue to the school administration; if nothing is accomplished within the school, don’t stop. Go to the Board of Education, change schools, contact authorities, but do not turn the cheek.
Each school should not only have policies against bullying but enforce them consistently. Last but not least, support groups in the school and community are a must. If there isn’t one in your area, be the person to step up, get involved and create a support group.
These four tragedies were not only cases of school bullying but also instances of anti-gay hate. I highly recommend going to the Gay-Straight Alliance Network website and reading how you can help make your school a hate-free zone.
Seth Walsh: Gay 13-Year-Old Hangs Self After Reported Bullying, CBSNews.com
Bullying may have pushed 15-year-old to suicide, WTHR.com
Another Suicide: Houston teen, victim of anti-gay bullying, shoots himself, LGBTQNATION
Rutgers freshman kills self after classmates use hidden camera to watch his sexual activity, NYDailyNews.com