In the past few weeks, the LGBT community – especially in the United States – has been hard hit with stories of one teen’s suicide after the other. While gay and questioning teens have always been a high risk group when it comes to suicide and although programs like the Trevor project have been set up to provide aid, guidance and assistance for those teens, they are still cutting their lease on life in droves.
After the death of four teens all over the United states, the public sentiments culminated with the death of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student who has committed suicide just last week after he has been bullied and black mailed by his roommate who live-streamed private videos of him on the internet.
The outpouring of emotions brings back sad memories of the sentiments and introspection that the United States experienced after the killing of Mathew Sheppard in Wyoming in 1998. While the issue of bullying and harassment of gay and lesbian teens has been always on the mind of LGBT rights activists, the devastating series of news has galvanized celebrities and public figures into action. One such initiative is the “It Gets Better” video project launched by Dan Savage about a month ago after the death of a Billy Lucas, a 15 year from Indiana.
What is it about?
The whole campaign is an act of solidarity by gay and lesbian adults imploring their teenage counterparts to be patient and hold on to dear life for it does get better in time. Each person shares their experiences growing up, and the harassment and bullying that they had to put up with and how much better they are doing right now, and how things take a drastic turn to the better once high-school is over.
People have been pouring into Youtube to share their stories, from teachers who support their students even though they risk losing their jobs to others who survived their suicide attempts and lived to tell their tales, some will make you cry and others will make you laugh.
The Buzz In Numbers
It is quite astounding the reaction people had for the campaign, the sheer number of participants is really heartwarming and everyone bonded together for the sake of it reaching out and helping those teens who feel like they are the only ones in the world having it this bad. The Youtube channel includes links to videos from artists, activist, those who lost friends, people like the members of ‘Wicked’ to Darren Hayes of Savage Garden, cities such as San Francisco, Chicago and many others.
Channel Views: 910,000+ views
How Will It Make Things Better?
Celebrating the out-pour of stories and support that the ‘It Gets Better’ project is receiving comes with a foot note of melancholy and sadness with news about another teen taking his own life in Rhode Islands this time. However, there seems to be some hope that this campaign will have a positive impact on the lives of bullied teens, that hope sprouts out of the messages and comments that are sent to Dan Savage on his blog.
One of the letters is from a mother of 14 year old who has been relentlessly bullied in school as a freshman who found comfort out hearing other people telling his story and how his mother hopes that “seeing so many other people say the same things holds much more weight than having his mother tell him.”
It certainly is heart warming seeing the warm embrace that the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign received from various sides of American society. Two notable additions to the campaign, one from Google:
And another from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
How do you feel about such campaigns? Do you think such campaigns can be effective or are they just tools to make the people who share them just feel better about themselves? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.