Shocking news: Among the Alabama police force are some seriously bad apples. OK, not so shocking.
But Madison County Deputy Jeff Graves is a special kind of horror show, the kind who uses the tragic death of a bullied, queer 15-year-old boy to crack a homophobic joke.
Unnecessary doesn’t even begin to describe Graves’ decision to comment on the WZDX Facebook page linked to a story that featured student Nigel Shelby, who died by suicide, reportedly after being bullied for being gay.
The witticism Graves deemed appropriate to share?
That’s my kind of LGBTQ movement
Oscar Wilde he is not.
And it didn’t even stop there. Here’s how it looked on Facebook:
“I’m seriously offended there is such a thing such as the movement,” Graves continued. “Society cannot and should not accept this behavior. I have a right to be offended and will always be offended by this fake movement which requires no special attention but by persons with an altered ego and fake agenda.”
Graves is indeed correct that he holds the right to be offended, but so too does the Madison County Sherriff’s Office have the right to hold its officers to a standard somewhere above human trash heap.
And while this is in no way an endorsement of that particular police force — who knows what other injustices are hiding underneath its weight — in this case, for either the proper reason of human decency or for a more calculated PR move, the right thing was done.
“The Sheriff’s Office holds all its employees to high standard, and the public can be assured that a thorough and complete audit will be conducted and appropriate action will be taken,” said Madison County Lt. Donny Shaw, a sheriff’s office spokesman, in a statement. “The involved employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the audit.”
In the same statement, sheriff Kevin Turner offered “his condolences to the family and friends of Nigel Shelby whose young life was lost to suicide last week.”
“Bullying of any group or person in or outside of schools is unacceptable, and I welcome any and all efforts to raise awareness to bullying and bring bullying to a stop,” Turner added.
Here are warning signs to watch for if you fear someone is suicidal and resources that can help those thinking of harming themselves or who fear a loved one might harm themselves, via AL.com.
- Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.
- Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means.
- Talking or writing about death, dying, ”ending the pain” or suicide.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking.
- Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out.
- Increasing alcohol or drug use.
- Withdrawing from friends, family, social support and society.
- Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.
- Experiencing significant mood changes.
- Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.
- Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge.
HOW TO HELP
- Ask the person directly if he or she is having suicidal thoughts, has a plan to do so, and has access to lethal means.
- If you think the person might harm him- or herself, do not leave the person alone.
- Take seriously all suicide threats and all past suicide attempts, even if he or she minimizes your concerns.
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
- Be willing to listen and be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life or whether suicide is viewed by some as a sinful, selfish or angry act. Respect that suicidal feelings are most likely related to ending emotional or psychological pain.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support. Take into account other trusted friends, family members or allies who can be a part of a supportive team.
- Don’t dare him or her to do it.
- Don’t act shocked. This may translate as criticism or judgment and weaken trust between you.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Acknowledge that all suicidal risk is to be taken seriously and firmly and gently explain that you are seeking support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
- Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
Source: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline