i just found out that an 8th grader shot and killed himself in the hallways of his junior high school. it happened in stillwater, oklahoma, this morning. what an absolute tragedy. stuff like this should never happen.
there is a lot of conversation centered around whether there was bullying involved or not. the school claims that there was no history of bullying because nothing showed up in their computer database. my first response: your bullying prevention system is an anonymous formal computer system? my second response: there was zero history of bullying on his record? none at all? as in, it never happened, or was it not reported? or was it just not noticed at all?
i can tell you this: no one knew who this kid was. the article i linked above says that the student was “known for his smile and his red hair”. i could have taken a quick glance at his photo and known those qualities. but that’s not the biggest reason i know no one knew who he was. the real reason is that if people had known who he was – noticed him, accepted him, loved him – he would not have taken his life this morning.
i am in no way pointing fingers here, but i am very curious – where are the teachers, parents, counselors, club leaders, and pastors? it’s not hard to prevent a middle school suicide. a hug could do it. or a daily high five. or by just looking them in the eye and telling them that they’re awesome. by recognizing when they’re having a tough day – which is most days – and asking them about it. it’s not rocket science and it certainly doesn’t take much effort for us to be there for the kids in our world.
– every middle schooler is begging for someone to notice them.
– every middle schooler is searching for someone to accept them.
– every middle schooler is hoping someone will love them for who they are.
can we please commit to being that someone for the teenagers in our midst? their futures and their lives depend on it.