As scary and serious as the topic of teen suicide is, laws against bullying or laws that are intended to prevent suicide are both pointless.

Because bullies will always exist, and because the assumption that bullying “causes” suicide is false. Because nothing can “prevent” suicide except for a person’s decision not to take his own life. Of course we should provide resources for kids to show signs of depression anxiety or kids have expressed suicidal ideation. That is a given. But the more we connect bullying and suicide, the more we are teaching kids who are bullied to consider that suicide may be the answer. The more laws named after dead kids who were bullied, the more we show that suicide is the INEVITABLE CONCLUSION to incessant bullying. We need to STOP making the connection and stop sensationalizing these stories!

I was taken to task on Friday when a woman whose son had committed suicide called to explain the law that was named in his memory. When asked what the law would do she said it would create “round tables” to look into remedies for bullying and suicides due to bullying. There are none. I was supposed to have agreed with her because apparently a woman whose son killed himself has to be agreed with. But I think it does more harm than good to connect bullying and suicide.

You can’t make bullying a crime, and bullying doesn’t cause suicide. Suicide is an unfortunate circumstance and a decision made by someone who is either mentally ill or doesn’t have the coping strategies to deal with the pain of bullying. Or other things. It’s a sad fact, but there is no one else to blame for suicide. Of course, it makes the devastated loved ones left behind feel better to think that other people or factors are to blame. But the fact is that the vast majority of kids who are bullied do not kill themselves. When I was bullied mercilessly for a year in middle school I missed 40 days of school, went to bed crying every night and wished my bully would die (and sometimes wished I would).

My parents had meetings with the school, the principal, and the bully himself. I’m not sure what kept me from contemplating suicide, but it’s possible nothing would’ve stopped me had I made the decision to.

There is no causative connection between bullying and suicide, for if there were, as we learned in seventh-grade science, how is it that most kids who are bullied do not commit suicide? Suicide is a painful and difficult subject to discuss so no one wants to face the fact that there is no one to blame for suicide except for the person who commits it.

If you feel you or someone you know may be in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK, or the NJ Hopeline, 1-855-654-6735.

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