I’m sure that even when I’m gone, you’ll find the strength not to let this happen to anyone else.
—Brandon Bitner, the Pennsylvania 14-year-old who stepped in front of a tractor trailer last week to kill himself, writing in the suicide note he left behind. “To me, that’s why he did it,” says Brandon’s mother Tammy Simpson, who knows Brandon has been bullied for years by classmates. “It wasn’t to get attention to himself. It was to get attention to the problem.” The note, which makes clear Brandon killed himself because of insufferable torment including being called “faggot” and “sissy,” described a Nov. 1 incident in his school cafeteria where he thought he was being ridiculed as “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” [ABC 27, AP]
You see when I was a kid and bullied for being gay I acted out in a way that made it all stop,,I set my bullies car on fire and kept delivering road kill to adreesed to his sister in Valentine shaped box’es and grinned at him on the school bus after it was all said and done. Any one else do stuff like that?
@Wonka: No, because that’s insane.
@Brutus: No, it’s not, it’s awesome! He had every right to get all psycho on that guy’s ass
Wonka : How did they know you were gay ?
@N: No, it’s just a stupid troll. If he had actually done these things and enough people in the school knew about them in order to deter any sort of bullying the authorities would have gotten involved, and rightfully so.
Brandon Bitner, very sad to hear about this misguided messiah complex he apparently had going on. We as a country need to quit glorifying suicide and recognize the suicidal as the mentally ill people they are instead of the tortured martyrs these unwitting enablers fancy them to be.
Torture makes people do crazy things, and that’s all bullying is, torture.
I get the mother’s need to martyr her son, but let’s not be complicit in glorifying his act as a protest. His death, like his bullying, is a senseless tragedy, period.
Here are some guidlines for reporting suicide – please read them, before you write another story about suicide.
Reporting suicide guidelines
Sensitive reporting saves lives
Not all suicides are newsworthy. But when they are, it is less likely that others will attempt to take their own lives if media professionals handle the stories responsibly.
Sensitive reporting includes:
consideration for the feelings of relatives;
avoiding detailed descriptions of suicide methods;
acknowledging the complexities of suicidal behaviour;
providing information about where help and advice can be found.
Avoid sensational headlines, images, and language.
In the aftermath of a suicide, relatives are especially vulnerable. They may feel anger, despair, guilt, incomprehension or shame. Publicity makes the situation worse, particularly for children. Consult with immediate family before publishing material that may not have been in the public domain. Some may welcome sympathetic media interest especially if a suicide occurs in unusual circumstances, but avoid unnecessary intrusion into grief and family privacy.
Publicising details of suicide methods can encourage imitation.
It may be relevant to indicate how a person has died, but providing too much detail may encourage others to try these methods. Explicit descriptions can also cause additional distress to relatives and friends of the deceased, especially children.
Avoid speculation, especially about ‘celebrity’ suicides.
Prominent figures are entitled to privacy, even if they kill themselves. Beware of gossip and rumours. Always check your sources and consult with relatives before publishing speculative comment that may be unfounded, untrue or hurtful to survivors.
Suicide is a complex issue, often linked to mental illness.
It is neither helpful nor accurate to suggest that suicide occurs as a result of a single factor. Often there will be history of forms of mental illness like depression, and this should be acknowledged. Avoid giving the impression that suicide is a simple ‘solution’ to a particular problem; acknowledge that sudden death creates problems for family and friends.
Consider context – suicides in institutions deserve investigation.
When people kill themselves while in the care of the authorities – in hospital, in police custody, in prison, or in other institutions, their deaths may raise important questions about levels of supervision and care. The public interest is best served if suspicions are investigated, and lessons learned that may prevent recurrences.
Challenge ‘myths’ about suicide.
Avoid perpetuating popular misconceptions – like ‘those who threaten suicide are unlikely to do it’ or ‘if someone wants to kill themselves, nothing will stop them’. Our job is to report the facts and to try to explain the phenomenon, the circumstances and the wider issues.
Censorship or misinformation about suicide is unhelpful.
Attitudes towards suicide vary from culture to culture, but media professionals should not seek to hide the facts. It is more important for the public to be aware of the phenomenon than to be ignorant of the warning signs or where to go for help to prevent suicide. Newsrooms should encourage debate among staff, and develop their own policies on suicide coverage.
Put people in touch with suicide prevention agencies.
If a suicide story merits coverage there should be space or time to let people know where they can get help if the issues affect them. Newsrooms should ensure that they have up-to-date contact details of support organisations that can provide advice or counselling.
Journalists are vulnerable too – support colleagues.
Working in the media involves stress, competition and unusual challenges, in addition to the pressures individuals face in their private lives. A willingness to share concerns and provide support should be a feature of professional relationships in the workplace, especially when colleagues experience emotional difficulties.
Whatever Brandon’s reasons were, none are worthy of destroying the life of the truck driver as part of the plan. When someone commits suicide, the real victims are the people who are left behind. Nobody benefits from suicide – period.
Wonka :I tried to stab a bully on a school bus. Another I sucker punched in the face as he drank from the water fountain, then hitting his head in the locker. Threw a history book at the head of another bully. Personal favorite slaping a kid out of a chair in choir practice, for whispering faggot in my ear, as I was singing. Before I did all of that I tried killing myself twice. People started leaving me alone cause they thought I was crazy.
Yeah, acting like a violent macho straight boy is really going to change the world.
What’s wrong with wanting to play violin instead of becoming a death ninja? You know what I saw today? Small kids learning martial arts .. at church! It sucks having to constantly be on guard, defending your life, carry a weapon, etc. But it works and the bullies back off.
@Fagburn: Shut up. There’s nothing “macho straight boy” about defending yourself. If I had been around scribe it’d have helped me to see another gay person standing up for themselves. Also if someone’s bullying was so severe they tried to take their life twice I say fair play for taking ownership over their situation. It’s easy to judge isn’t it?
In England we have a term for this – wanker.
People who are able to commit suicide have a mental illness that needs to be addressed.
Even if he hadn’t done it over bullying it would’ve been about anything else he was depressed about.
Chemical imbalances are real and very serious issues. It goes beyond bullying and mixing issues only makes both worse.
Bullying does not cause suicide, but it is an issue that needs to stop immediately.
People who are clinically depressed need to be put into therapy immediately. There’s nothing a family can do, you can’t sit a suicidal person down, and talk it out.
People have killed themselves over a dog dying or a friend ending the relationship or even a fight with a sibling. Does that sound as intense as being bullied? It shouldn’t. Yet they did it.
It’s an entirely different issue that shouldn’t be tied with bullying.
@Hilarious: No, that’s bull. Of course he was depressed. He was called a sissy, geek, fag, weakling every day “for years” by his peers. Same as Asher Brown. Both of them were smart, sensitive kids who were tormented daily, and their personalities reflected this torment. Counseling and medicine isn’t going to fix this problem. And putting the blame on the child is just more bullying BS.
I would be loath to apply mental illness to situations were their is clear causation for the suicide. Humans are social beings and when you destroy that you can drive most people into the abyss. People that are locked in solitary confinement for long periods of time usually go crazy. This kid was socially castrated and humiliated by those bullies, that is what put him in the mental state that lead to his death. There are factors in this land that can get anyone to that point, the bullies took him there not some inherent mental illness. That being said it was a cruel thing to jump in front of that truck, he became the bully when he shattered that truck drivers life.
@Kev C: Where did I blame the child? No seriously point out to me where I blamed him for his own mental illness?
What’s BS is pretending suicide is something people who aren’t mentally ill are capable of.
Would you be able to throw yourself at a moving truck even at rock bottom? I was tormented all through school yet here I am. Is it because I’m somehow stronger than other kids? No. I just am not capable of killing myself. It doesn’t even register to me as an option.
Suicide is a product of mental illness. Say the opposite all you want but the facts will remain the same. Going against self-preservation goes against human nature. We are not able to kill ourselves unless our own self-preservation is inactive and EVERYTHING that goes on in your body is due to chemical reactions in the brain so the medicine you’re so afraid of is ONE ASPECT of what can help to treat it..
Maybe you should educate yourself before telling someone else they’re wrong.
@reason: Wrong for the exact same reason.
Mental illness is real. Mental illness stems from chemical imbalances in the brain. Everything we do is a reaction to stimulation and receptors.
Their self-preservation is inactive or very slow to react. Fully functioning human beings are physically incapable of suicide. The same way your brain tells you something is hot is the same way it will tell you to move out of harms way. To go against that means something is broken.
That does not mean bullying does not need to be stopped and at no point in time did I say it doesn’t need to be stopped. You can remove the bullies from the equation and suicidal people will still kill themselves.
There are countless documentaries on suicide. Most of them have nothing to do with bullying. Most of them have nothing to do with a breaking point.
People who want to kill themselves and are left untreated usually do even when their life is going great.
Stop spreading misinformation. That’s far more damaging than anything else.
@Hilarious: You are discounting the fact that mood can impact your brain chemistry and even lead to permanent changes. It is not just limited to brain chemistry but can have other negative effects on an individuals health. You can literally die from a broken heart. To make it a little more palatable to you, I am sure that you are aware that a stimuli like cocaine can lead to changes in brain chemistry well other external stimuli can have the same effect. All of the external stimuli that you experience are actually converted to chemical signals, even the packets of light that you are perceiving from your computer monitor. Consistent depression, embarrassment, humiliation are all capable of becoming potent debilitating drugs.
How would you explain the nine-hundred and nine individuals that were convinced to commit suicide in the Jonestown incident, did biological factors make them incapable of suicide? Did they all have an innate mental illness? If you can convince a society of normal German citizens to engage in the horrific acts of WWII, nobody is beyond the control of environmental factors albeit manipulation, bullying, or whatever else.
@Hilarious: He didn’t kill himself because he had a bad hair day. He didn’t tell people he was being bullied because he was terrified and he didn’t want to cause trouble. Brandon was a nice kid. A sweet, shy kid. Being shy isn’t a mental illness. He simply couldn’t go on. It was too much for him.
@Fagburn: Fagburn…. After taking pills twice to try and kill myself I figured out a very important lesson: NO ONE WAS GOING TO SAVE ME, BUT ME!!!! I HAD A RIGHT TO BE WHO I WAS AND I SHOULD BE WILLING TO PROTECT MYSELF, BEFORE LETTING OTHERS ABUSE ME. I’m not saying I won every fight I have ever been in, i didn’t, but when I fought people knew that I wouldn’t let them get over on me. I fought them every time they called me a name, at every joke, even if I had to cheat, they knew it was coming. Eventually, I was left alone, found a boyfriend and allowed to be me. I prefer to be my own hero, to a victim any day.
@Hilarious: “Everything we do is a reaction to stimulation and receptors.” That should have been your key, bullying is a stimuli that can lead to significant changes depending on how it is perceived or receipted.
You bring up a valid point about mental illness and how it is poorly addressed in our society. That is an important topic and may even play a role in some of the suicides of GBLT youth but I think it is a grave mistake to point to it as the causal factor. With that logic one would stat to look into the discrepancies in suicides rates between homosexual youth and heterosexual youth and put it on their disposition. If what you said was true, they would be correct. Then one would ask if homosexuality is strong predictor of mental illness.
That is not the case, the situation that homosexuals are in lead to increased depression, suicide ideation, anxiety, reduced coping skills, poor health outcomes, etc.
Actually, I think that directing your anger outward is a lot less insane than suicide.
@Wonka: heh, that’s straight up Punk Rock. I once read some mail art that was generated using the “exquisite corpse” method of art building and made a gossip diary of my tormenters, using the same method. I sat in their bars, listening and mixing with their “bitches”, I even stole a guy’s “homo safe” magazines who I used to work out with. I took away every one of their “straight privileges”, or at least corrupted the joy they felt in waving them around publicly to shame a “faggot” like me. Craigslist was new, cyberbullying unheard of, so I went on a little “publishing run”. Two way street. To this day I still get people cowering from me in my hometown, poor shits. They have even forgotten it’s because they’re homophobes. Ask me if I care. I even took a chance and showed my project to a client (design) once and got a huge contract out of it! Judo is not total, but Judo is eternal. 😀
Youngsters, don’t get even, make your statement the way you would want to make it, and just do it, F suicide. We are turning the tide, just remember that….
Some mental illnesses are genetic. It was likely that he had a mental illness. Suicide is not a normal reaction to bullying.The fact that he stated that he wanted his death used to help other people indicates that the media coverage/sensationalism of teen suicides was a contributing factor. These kids are starting to think that they will become martyrs if they commit suicide. The media fails to mention that in most of these cases, the person suffered from mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or severe depression. These illnesses can be GENETIC.
@Mike: I never claimed that mental illness can’t stem from genetics or that people can’t have a predisposition towards mental illness. I am saying it is a big mistake to write off suicides as mental illness because that is not always the case. Environmental factors can play a strong role whether an individual has a predisposition or not. I don’t think that we have the ability to judge what was taking place in these individuals lives, their suffering may have gonna far beyond the typical bullying you find at an average school. When stock brokers were jumping out of windows after the market crashed and individuals that had trusted them with their life savings lost everything, would you chalk that up to mental illness? Things can happen in this world that can drag anyone on to that cliff.
If the writers at Queerty can’t follow the guidelines posted by Fagburn upthread can someone at least change that fucking headline!?
It’s very sad and stupid (we don’t need martyrs). But I can’t imagine what all those bullies feel right now. I would be overwhelmed by fact that somebody committed suicide because of my immature behavior.
PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
You guys did the absolute correct thing. Bullies are insecure cowards who only bully because they think the targets of their abuse will not fight back………….
I’m thinking that the classic film “Heathers” has caught on with the kids of today. In the words of Big Fun “Teenage suicide- don’t do it!”
I see the armchair psychiatrists are really out in force today pontificating that all suicides are caused by mental illness. But Brandon wasn’t diagnosed with any. So far as we know, he was not taking any drugs to treat any. True, the mental health industry might have made money off the kid’s parents if he had lived long enough, and so might have the pharmaceutical industry. But they would not have solved his problem.
Only a punch in the bully’s face would have solved his problem, or a karate kick in the bully’s groin. Telling the bully that he was obsessed with fags because he was afraid he was one himself might have worked too, after the punch or the kick. I think it would have done the trick.
And don’t parents have a moral obligation to teach their effeminate, sensitive kids to defend themselves? Martial arts training could work wonders, and offers a real world solution that actually works.
@Wonka: Fuck yeah, that’s awesome!
@Fagburn: I would think it would be punk or coward. There is nothing wrong with defending yourself. Maybe the English should try it sometime.
If more gay kids stood up for themselves and fought back thenmaybe there would not be as many suicides. Gay kids are told by society at large and Gay, inc. that they are victims from the get go. Start thinking you are a victim and you will become one.
Wonka, you kick ass!!!
@Giovannidude: Right, because throwing yourself in front of a moving truck is something rationally thinking people do.
Sometimes drugs aren’t even needed in therapy, but when you have suicidal thoughts, you probably need them.
You’re so against drugs because? Yet suicide and/or violence is the answer?
You do know schools have a zero tolerance policy for physical violence right? He’d have a criminal record and still probably would’ve killed himself.
If you want to criticize me then maybe you should do some fact checking of your own beforehand. Suggesting gay kids start hitting bullies is downright stupid and won’t solve anything.
What evidence do you even have to disprove my statements since you know so much? What even makes you think someone capable of committing suicide over something minor isn’t suffering from mental illness?
Get a fucking grip, I sugar coated my comments out of sensitivity for the situation, but let me make myself very clear: Bullying is not that serious, it sucks, but you’ll live.
People are just plain babying their teens if they aren’t mentally ill and they decide the only way to get past it is death.
At this point bullying in school is name calling because as I’ve said before if you hit someone you are escorted out in handcuffs. If a fight is mutual you both go in handcuffs. That’s been going on for almost 12 years now.
So really is name calling worth dying over? Really? Someone calls you a name and you kill yourself?
It’s mental illness. Period.
Guess what, people get called names everyday, people get picked on everyday. It doesn’t get better, you grow up, and get over it.
To say it’s not mental illness is the real insult because you’re suggesting someone is actually so weak and pathetic he’d throw himself in front of a moving vehicle because he got called names.
EVERYONE on this planet at some point has been called a name and been made fun of. No one is a special snowflake and gay kids are not the only ones who get picked on.
@Hilarious: Using philosophy from Fight Club is sort of ironic, ya think? Cut him some slack. Brandon cracked .. Under Pressure. He became depressed only after he was bullied, and starting dressing “emo” which only increased the bullying. Why didn’t he fight back? Why couldn’t he cope? Why did he internalize? Because he was a sissy weakling and couldn’t do anything. He was worthless. Ok? Happy now?
@Kev C: Are you? You’re the one who typed that shit.
@Hilarious: He was 14. He wasn’t around long enough to develop coping mechanisms or a support system. And being a straight queer, maybe he wasn’t in the loop for It Gets Better messages. How do you stop the bullying and the depression? Well, a crude way to stop it is to walk in front of a truck. That’s not very nuanced or sophisticated, but what do you expect from a 14yo?
@Hilarious: You’ve got it totally backwards. That Brandon deliberately walked in front of a truck (because no subway trains or streetcars were available) proves he was rational. It was his only option, and he knew it.
His parents let him down, because they did not prepare their effeminate, sensitive son to defend himself in any way. His friends (if he had any) let him down, because they would not stick up for him. His teachers let him down, because they would not intervene in even the most minimal way. His school administrators let him down, because they are only interested in covering up anything negative that happens within their schools, not in having it prosecuted.
Given that everyone and everything was totally, unequivocally against him, he took the only logical action he could, which proves that his mental processes were indeed intact, and he was therefore not mentally ill.
So stop calling the poor lad mentally ill. Stop smearing his memory.
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