Teen Suicide

I couldn’t agree more with Melissa Carroll, PhD candidate at McMaster University, when she says in the Globe and Mail article titled “Mental Illness? Yes, but also homophobia”:

But the larger question remains: Why? What are we as a community not addressing? What a well-rounded argument makes clear is that outside factors such as hatred, ignorance and violence are conditioned by adults and placing vulnerable teens in harm’s way. Suicide is not just a personal problem; it’s also a socially supported act we each need to seriously address, with all facts on the table.

The article isn’t blaming homophobia for teen suicide but it is pointing out the fact that a large number of LGBT teens are the ones committing suicide. So what is it about homophobia? Racism? Classism? Sexism? Or gender oppression that is linked to suicide.

Just as Melissa notes, the hatred, ignorance and violence that are conditioned by adults. So are adults to blame? No but I think adults should step up. Growing up, adults in schools, like teachers, allow students to be bullied. They also influence other students’ view points or knowledge on a certain group of people, whether the group is a certain ethnic, racial, gender group and even one belonging to a particular orientation.

I mean, isn’t it after all the purpose of school to socialize young people to be a certain way, follow the rules, be polite, and hopefully contribute to society in one way or another. Am I blaming teachers? No. Am I blaming schools? No. Am I blaming education? Yeah, why not.

Being an Aboriginal person who has gone to a Catholic elementary school and then a public high school, not once did we learn about what really happened in the history of Canada. Oh but it was the one teacher who called her own student the “stupid Indian.” And it was the history teacher that told her class that residential schools were created to educate “the natives.” The more correct word should have been to assimilate. And being in an post-secondary institution today, I can only learn about Canadian history by actually signing up for those programs and if I read a book a dedicated to First Nations people and their history.

It makes me upset that people keep blaming individuals in society. In my opinion, the problem is the institutions within society. Isn’t it after all that the institutions influence individuals? I think so.

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