Saturday, 29 October 2011

Let's not turn Jamie Hubley into a folk hero

A few years ago, my kids lost one of their friends, Michelle, to suicide.

Michelle had been a fixture in our household throughout high school. She was a sweet girl, a troubled girl. I have picture of Michelle from when she graduated from Hillcrest High School in my photo album.

Michelle died just a year later, just barely twenty, found hanging, a red ribbon wrapped around her neck.

My kids all attended her funeral. My son Nick had a tattoo emblazoned on his arm as a tribute to a life cut far too short.

The story of Michelle bothered me for years. I found myself going to her Facebook site, reading the comments. It felt goulish, but I couldn't look away. I felt almost ashamed.

My experience with Michelle's death informs what I'm about to say.

When a friend or a child dies by their own hand, we all share private grief and wonder why it had to happen. We all want the answers that we will never know. But at some point, it's time to move on and celebrate the other good people in our lives, and embrace the time God has given us on the Earth.

I am very troubled by the outpouring of media surrounding the death of Jamie Hubley, who by all accounts was loved by his parents and his friends, but who was unable to fight his own private demons.

There has been much debate over Jamie's death. Was it the result of bullying? Of him having difficulty dealing with being gay? Of his requited dream of realizing romantic love in his life?

We will never know.

Whatever the reason Jamie killed himself, he is now gone and it's time for all of us -- especially the media -- to move on to another cause.

His memory is being used to further other peoples' agendas and it is just wrong.

It is also wrong to turn Jamie into a folk hero.

He was not. He was an ordinary boy with problems that nobody could fix.

He should not be sketched as a relatable character for other young people who have similar thoughts. As the Canadian Psychiatric Association states in its position paper on media and suicide, publicity of this kind encourages others with dark thoughts to look to suicide as a way out.

This phenomenon is called suicidal ideation.

It romanticizes the subject.

It makes it seem cool, even right, to want to kill oneself.

This is the last time I will write on this subject, and I hope that the media will finally lay Jamie and his legacy to rest.

It's a sad story, made even sadder by portraying Jamie as a martyr to the cause.

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