This is a tragic story.
This is a familiar story.
This is a photo of Rosalie:
Kids at school told her she was ugly. Her parents had arranged counseling for her months before her suicide because they discovered she'd been cutting herself. They did everything right in their attempt to save their daughter. Sadly, forces greater than themselves intervened.
In August, the Huffington Post ran a story on teen suicide rates--because they have hit an all-time high and continue to rise. Nowadays, more young girls kill themselves than ever before.
This is a gut punch to me.
I want to blame social media. I want to blame a society that reveres youth and beauty above all gifts, talents, abilities or strengths.
I want to blame the parents of the bullies, but I know that those parents love their kids and think they're terrific. Of course they do. It has been my experience that the parents of bullies are the last people to discover that their 'good' kids are going off to school and taunting, tormenting, and humiliating other kids.
I want to blame the bullies, of course. I want to pull them aside, sit them down, get in their faces with my harshest teacher voice and ask, "Do you understand exactly what you did here?" But... they're kids. They did what kids have done for countless generations. I was told horrible things in middle school, too. "Your teeth are crooked." "You walk funny." "You're ugly." "You're dumb." And I was depressed, though not suicidal. That depth would come later, in high school, when I was fifteen.... All those voices echoing in my psyche contributed, though, I have no doubt.
I want to blame somebody, anybody, because I'm just angry. I'm furious that another girl thought she wasn't pretty enough... thought that happiness would only be held out to the beautiful people in life. I'm sure she watched enough TV and saw enough online and heard enough at school to believe that this is so.
And so she simply lost hope. She was embarrassed by her crooked teeth. Her parents got her the orthodontia she needed, but then she was teased about wearing braces. She couldn't win. So she gave up.
We lost her. And I am so sad for that.
I went for a walk this morning around Mesa View Middle School. I took Thomas with me (because one should always take a beloved companion along when one chooses to immerse oneself in sadness). We walked the perimeter of the school, then found ourselves walking the athletic track, then discovered Rosalie's name scraped out in the dirt in letters as long as my shadow. I stepped back in order not to walk on someone's memorial and saw that a third of the track had been covered in messages:
Rosie, we miss you!
Rosie, we love you!
Rosalie (signed by Aubrianna)
And the last one pictured below. To that one, I say, Amen.