Are you bored of Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan and need something to rail against? Congratulations! You’ve come to the right place.
For approximately five days and five nights, the world has let exist a Facebook page known as “No Respect for Suicidal Teens,” a group that purports to fix our endemic problems of school bullying and teen suicide by letting suicidal kids know they, like, totally suck. Created by alleged human being Destiny Reilly, No Respect for Suicidal Teens bills itself as “a community of people that are smart enough to realize that suicidal teens are just irrelevant assholes.” Reilly and her merry band of internet droogs (Luigi and Anthrax, which are obviously their real names) seem to believe that the best way to fix bullying is with more bullying, which is like throwing gasoline on a fire to put it out. Good call, guys.
Because the page is clearly run by a hack team of Rhodes scholars, typical content on “No Respect for Suicidal Teens” includes pictures of SpongeBob saying “Die, Bitch,” statements mocking the victims of 9/11 and a photo alleging that “flat-chested” women may be correct in killing themselves. Another post details how to kill yourself, for those who need tips, and the admins of the page take special care to slut-shame Amanda Todd, the 15-year-old Canadian high school student who was bullied into killing herself in October. The page simply exists to mock and shame people like Amanda as “pussies,” “faggots” and whatever other disparate insults the admins can think to throw at the wall and to actually encourage the behavior the admins believe they want to prevent.
In response to criticism of the page’s ethos and rhetoric from Facebook users, here’s what the admins had to say:
“We have no respect for those who selfishly kill themselves, rather than facing life bravely head-on. Our goal is to reduce suicide in the world by helping suicidal people realize how stupid and selfish they’re being. Yeah, it sounds harsh, but it’s pretty fucked up that well-off teens want to commit suicide while even starving children in Africa are happy to be alive. The world is better off without such ungrateful people anyway.”
According to the admins’ responses, they feel like they are “helping people […] by reinforcing the bullshit victimization mindset that made them want to commit suicide in the first place” and replacing that with the mantras of “appreciate life, tits or GTFO.”
Because of this lack of responsiveness, a number of Facebook users have been rallying to have the page reported, blocked and removed from Facebook, stating that it violates the site’s policies on inappropriate and dangerous content. That’s hard to argue against, as the page claims to prevent suicide by actually promoting it and is a huge trigger risk to any teen that might be considering suicide or have a history of depression. What’s worse when you’re depressed than someone who invalidates your very right to be depressed because you aren’t a starving baby in Africa? Who wants to be told they’re a bad person and sick for feeling depressed? Who wants to be told that the world is better off without them?
In high school, I was one of those kids the page stands to mock. As a closeted queer person, I spent years believing that no one could love me because of the person I was, that I would have a miserable, lonely life and that I didn’t deserve to live. When I went to our local Baptist church to get help and find community, our pastor validated my belief by telling us that queer people don’t deserve to live. One day, he told us that God would blow up San Francisco for its sins. When I came out to him, he told me that God was waiting upstairs for me with a sniper rifle, and he would cut me down if that was the path I chose. His God was very busy with hate.
I chose a different path. I made the decision to come out to my friends and family and trust them to love me no matter what. I came out to strangers in AOL chatrooms (sorry, blueeyezbabe44 and snoboardchik16), my stepmother in my aunt’s bathroom during a family party, my best friend during English class and my mother by drawing her a picture. All I wanted was someone was to tell me that I was worthy of love and that I was beautiful, just the way I was. And to my surprise, I found myself surrounded by love, swallowed up by love and practically smothered by the people who were coming out to support me. This love wasn’t conditional or tough and wrapped in a fist: it told me everything I was feeling was normal. I was normal.
If anything warms my heart about this “No Respect for Suicidal Teens,” it’s that the people who are speaking out about this page far outnumber those who support it. Although the page currently has 90 likes, a petition popped up on Change.org, posts about the group have been making their way around Tumblr and hate mail has been filling up their Facebook wall. If there’s anything that would have made depressed, suicidal me in high school feel better, it would have been to know that people are standing up to that bullying and working to create a better world for the Amanda Todds and Tyler Clementis. If we want to eradicate hate in the world, the only answer is love.