Hardly a week goes by when there is not a tragic story of a teenager committing suicide. Tragic as these deaths are, there is absolutely no causation between bullying and suicide. The media's simplistic and sensational coverage of these teenage deaths are very problematic in this regard.
Suicide is never, let me repeat, suicide is never the result of one cause. Suicide is always the result of a culmination of events that triggers the deadly act; any one event could be the tips the scales.
Every kid is teased, picked on, or bullied growing up. I can guarantee that most people born in the '60s and '0s do not know anyone who committed suicide as a kid. So, why in today's times, does it seem to be so prevalent?
The simple answer is that the media has taken tragic events, and then converged them with unrelated issues to create a dangerously sensational narrative that drives ratings, but are not based on facts.
Last month 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick of Winter Haven, Fla. jumped to her death from the top of an abandoned concrete plant. Two of her female classmates (12 and 14 years old) now face felony stalking charges in this case.
Journalists have tried to create a narrative that Sedwick's classmates taunts was the cause of her killing herself. There has been no evidence linking one to the other. Journalists must be more responsible in dealing with sensitive issues like this.
I have not seen any stories that mentioned the fact that Sedwick had already tried to commit suicide by slashing her wrists a year before. So, there were obviously some issues with her long before the problem with her classmates.
Earlier this year, the New York Daily News reported on the suicide of a girl who was said to have been bullied. "The devastated parents of Gabrielle Molina said the 12-year-old girl had been tormented by schoolyard bullies for months – and the abuse may be the reason she hanged herself in her Queens home."
May be the reason? That's pure speculation.
Clearly, abuse from her classmates was a component of a more complicated issue facing Gabrielle. The family tried to keep secret the fact that Gabrielle frequently cut herself as a form of self-mutilation. So, she had other issues unrelated to bullying.
Let's put aside for a moment the convergence of complicated factors in these suicides; let's put aside the simple narrative the media creates when writing about this tragic issue; and let's talk about the one issue that no one wants to discuss.
Today we have people who are simply terrible parents. Part of it is not their fault. Parents today are the great grandchildren of feminism. The feminism of the late 60s, combined with the beginning of the destruction of the family unit has wreaked havoc on our society today.
As a part of this feminist philosophy, many women today proudly proclaim that they don't need a man to help them raise "their" kids – as though they got pregnant by themselves. Many women today don't connect the institution of marriage to having children. I have heard many women go so far as to say "what does marriage have to do with having kids?" I am not making this up.
This gutting and redefinition of the family unit is at the center of all the dysfunctionality we see in today's society. Again, it's the conflagration of these issues that create the pathologies we see today.
Men, especially black men, have been so marginalized in the public square and on TV that I can't blame women for not wanting to marry. Just look at the way we are portrayed on your favorite sitcoms today. We are caricatured as being stupid, incapable of having a stable relationship with a woman, and are constantly used for nothing more than being a sperm donor.
Like the issue of suicide itself, this lack of good parenting is also a complicated issue. Women have no constitutional right to have children and men have no constitutional right to impregnate women. But they both have moral imperatives to bring children into the world within the context of a stable family environment. Being a parent is not a right, it is a responsibility. And with more responsible parents, we are likely to see fewer suicides and other signs of dysfunction.
(Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.)