Gay Teen Suicide Sounds Too Familiar

Even with the gains in lgbt rights and recognized freedoms this year, there are still moments when we realize that there is still more work that needs to be done, for everyone within the community and without.

In an era with such publicized facts about and initiatives against bullying, it claims a lot of lives. Two weeks ago, a New Mexico teenager posted a final letter to his Twitter account before committing suicide after enduring a lifetime of bullying.

Carlos Vigil, 17, was actively involved in anti-bullying measures. Just before his death he was in North Carolina lobbying for an anti-bullying bill in the legislature. He regularly counseled other teens who felt bullied, and was thought of by many of his peers and adults to be quite confident. Overcoming bullying was an important subject to Carlos, who had just recently changed schools to escape harassment from classmates.

“We found out three years ago that he was going through this stuff and we’ve been trying to help him every day since,” his father, Ray Vigil told NBC affiliate KOB-TV. “We realize he’s been going through it every day since he was in third grade—that’s a long time for a child to hold that within himself.”

After finding out about Carlos’ note online, Ray rushed home to try to save his son. Carlos was rushed to the hospital on Saturday, July 13, and was taken off of life support that Tuesday. Dozens of classmates showed up to show support that Monday, and after he had passed Carlos’ family used his Twitter account to show their feelings: “Carlos is finally at peace! Thank you everyone for your support and prayers. Please don’t forget what he wanted STOP THE BULLYING.”

Chez Pazienza wrote a blog post on Huffington Post talking about the tragedy of Carlos and why it is important to remember him. Among many painful things, Pazienza wrote that,

“Carlos was a little boy with a smiley face lunchbox—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. Carlos was a chubby, awkward kid with glasses—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. Carlos was a teenager with acne—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. Carlos was gay—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. He wasn’t like everybody else—but in reality he was exactly like everybody else. He had a mother and a father, and friends, and a future, and dreams that could have come true.”

Sadly, Carlos saw himself to blame for his bullying. His heartbreaking note begins with “I’m sorry to those who I offended over the years. I’m blind to see that I, as a human being, suck. I’m an individual who is doing an injustice to the world and it’s time for me to leave.” It’s a terribly sad way for anyone to feel, to have internalized so much of the hate put on them cruelly by others.

An organization he helped found, Warehouse 508, plans to honor Carlos and the positive impact he had in his community while he was alive. Hopefully children and teenagers will get the assistance they need to overcome bullying in this country, because there seem to be far too many suicides, especially within the lgbt community, with ties to severe bullying.