Building Bridges Through Listening and Sharing

By Donny Winter
© 2012 Donny Winter and Diversity Rules Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.

donny_winterWhile many people do not admit it, there are those in the LGBTQ community who have experienced some form of trauma throughout their lives — whether it be through bullying, attempted suicide, sexual harassment or even sexual assault, one common thread in all of these difficult situations is the healing experiences. In my previous article I talked about how various non-profits like the ‘It Gets Better Project’ and the ‘Trevor Project’ exist to help bully victims as a resource aiming to alleviate their pain or share their experiences. The art of experience-sharing seems to be the bridge-builder between people and these two outlets are no doubt utilized for not only listening, but expressing.

After the news-rattling story of the 16 year old who took the lives of three students in an Ohio high school this past week, the possible motive of him being forced to act because of bullying was considered. Unfortunately one usual reason school shootings like these happen is because the perpetrator is provoked by bullies, granted that doesn‘t make the crime any less severe. I’ve noticed that whenever bullying is a factor one of two extremes happen to the victim: the victim lashes out against everyone around them in order to create harm to others or the victim acts out through committing an act of violence against themselves — sometimes leading to suicide. Most of the time friends, teachers, parents and people in this person’s life have no idea of their thoughts and at times they see viable proof before the crime against self or others occurs. Regardless who was involved or present, this experience will likely be viewed as a very traumatic experience not only for students and teachers, but also the parents.

Building bridges of understanding between people seems to be the only way terrible events like suicide or school shootings can be prevented. Listening and reading between the lines is the best way to ensure that everyone is heard. For example, the 16 year old shooter before committing the crime posted something on Facebook about his plans and even mentioned something to classmates, yet nobody took him seriously. I feel that if someone reached out to him and talked him down the tragedy could have been averted. There were several instances where suicide victims posted messages on their Facebooks’ about their plans, yet they still took their lives without interference. A primary solution is to closely monitor their behavior and take everything they say or do seriously.

While it isn’t the fault of parents, teachers and friends for not constantly listening to the victim, I think it’s very important for them to build those bridges and keep an open line of communication in order to prevent further deaths. We all connect with one another through our own experiences. My best advice to anybody especially those feeling suicidal is to open up and tell your story, you might be able to touch someone else’s life which can be empowering.

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