I checked Facebook today before I went to work; a friend had posted this latest Rick Mercer rant. She’d also made a comment that it was a little hypocritical because he didn’t specifically point out that he was gay. (Is there someone in the world who doesn’t know Rick is gay? Talk about living in a bubble….)
I mulled it over all evening. Something in the rant/comment combination wasn’t sitting right, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. It finally came to me as I was bawling out a kid for trying to pass off uninspired excuses for not doing the homework I assigned. (I’m alright with them not doing the homework, but they have to come up with creative excuses and be willing to accept the consequences.)
What’s bugging me is that people are blaming the rest of society for teenagers killing themselves.
In surviving my own adolescence, I’ve learned a few things. In parenting two children through most of their adolescences, I’ve learned a few more things. And the main thing I’ve learned is that teenagers are capable, and they have free will.
What people seem to forget about people like Jamie Hubley is that he was a human being. Human beings often make choices that others disagree with. He chose to control his life in a way that most people wouldn’t choose, but no one killed him. At all times, he had options.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the bullies shouldn’t have to face the music just because the “problem” has been removed; it doesn’t mean that society doesn’t have to change (read: get a freaking life) and learn to care about something more important than what a person does with his penis, and that mental illness is debilitating and potentially fatal; it doesn’t mean that the parents are let entirely off the hook because it’s all nature instead of nurture (the internet is public, and you can see most of what your kid is up to if you insist/plead/bribe/blackmail/hack your way onto his sites). It just means that – I’m ready to dodge the lightening bolt – Rick Mercer isn’t entirely right. My friend isn’t entirely right, either.
The volatile mixture in adolescence is free will and an inclination to extremes. All teenagers prefer the ends of the spectrum: mediocrity is for us boring middle-aged dudes. They like black and white; they like loud music and lots of their chosen vice; they like doing nothing or everything. Mostly, they like living on the edge: that would be the edge of death. And if they didn’t have this period of extremes, they’d never learn the limitations.
In killing himself, Jamie Hubley either learned the limitations or chose that extreme – we’ll never know. Outing everyone in a prominent position isn’t going to bring him back or stop other teenagers from killing themselves. To presume otherwise would be to belittle all the other problems Jamie must have been suffering through.
It’s sad when anyone kills himself. It doesn’t matter if the person is a kid or an adult. It doesn’t matter why that person committed suicide, it will always suck. There will always be people who are left alive, confused and hurt and angry. That’s just a fact of life.