I left campus today after a Friday full of deadlines and even a TEST. (*hiss!*) I went to Deep Eddy Pool and swam a few laps. On the way home I stopped at the drug store and before I have you believing that I’m bringing you along the way of my domestic daily affairs, I’ll say that I saw the magazine covers at the cash register and was inspired to address a topic.
Lately the news has been paying particular attention to an influx of college students and teens who have taken their lives in response to peer cruelty, whether that means taunting, blackmail, rumors, social exclusion or physical assault. I make no attempt to shadow or undermine the recent loss of these people, but I would like to point out that the media is selling these recent occurrences as the latest in a trend. They report that the loss of life is increasing and that this upward trend is a growing concern. The media may be correct in terms of the numbers and percentages they assign to these occurrences, but I would like to disagree with them in the area of these deaths becoming a concern for society due to their frequency.
This social abuse and suicide by the abused has always BEEN a concern for society. It happens every day and it does not end just because one takes their life. I find it remarkable that it takes such a magnitude of thoughtlessness, cruelty, misery and despair in order for a subject to warrant our intrigue. There are individuals who say and do nothing about their abuse, individuals who are abusing because they are unhappy, sad, fearful and individuals who see this happening to another and fail to say anything or stand up in defense.
Situations such as the one that occurred on our campus make me ask myself: How many of my fellow students are suffering from peer abuse? How many of my fellow students are feeling lonely? How many of my fellow students need relief from something or someone? Where are we missing the point in our interactions with one another?
Statistics may prove that these deaths are happening more often. The lives already lost to this situation are not merely numbers, though. They represent our challenge. By changing the way that we interact with one another and refusing to allow abusive habits to persist, can we not come together as a student body and unite based on our commonality? We are all Longhorns, we are all Austinites, we are all human beings who roam the planet earth. Perhaps we can allow the rest of our differences to be what makes our unity so strong? Can we as students, adults, citizens show a social awareness and a sense of compassion and unity strong enough to help and heal one another?
Bless all who walk these halls and all who walk their own,