Your words do make a difference

According to a study at Yale University, bully victims can be up to nine times more likely to consider and/ or attempt suicide than non-victims.

According to a study at Yale University, bully victims can be up to nine times more likely to consider and/ or attempt suicide than non-victims.

Rachel Lee, Staff Writer

Out of all of the high school deaths per year, 30% of them are suicides because of bullying. In America, there are around 4,400 suicides per year due to bullying. I don’t want to dish out a load of hard-hitting, well-researched facts that you will forget in a short time. This article needs to leave a lasting impact on you.

I am going to try and show you that your words do, in fact, make a difference. There could be a million and one reasons that you are reading this right now, and no matter the reason you are, I want you to finish reading this and say to yourself, “I never knew that what I say could hurt someone so much…”

I sure hope you end this with a new outlook on some important things, because the story I am about to tell you just might open your eyes:

As a little girl, I lived with my grandparents, and they didn’t really know the same things that everyone else’s parents did. I grew up watching baseball in my pop pop’s lap, and I played outside in the mud with my dirt- stained overalls and frizzy pigtails. I never watched the popular movie High School Musical until I was 15 years old while most girls my age had seen it in 2006, the year it came out. All of my clothes were hand-me-downs from my older brothers, and I had never gotten a haircut before. To say the least, I was a tomboy. I was a kid living life freely and to the fullest. I was always playing outside and running around without shoes on; I chased birds and ate goldfish until my stomach hurt. I taught myself to play all alone. I got very used to myself and enjoyed my own company.  I did not see why there was a problem with that… Not until I went to a new school in third grade and met her. The girl who fills my elementary and middle school memories. She made my daily life a living hell for a good five to six years.  I woke up most days and dreaded going to school for fear of being called ugly or fat. Every single day, I was told by her that I was annoying and stupid. After a while, other people joined in. They called me a “she-male” and “klutz” and “freak” and other things that are not appropriate to be said in this article. For years, I dealt with name-calling and rudeness. I never really let it get to me until middle school… when things got bad. I had most classes with Makenzie and her “posse.” They were ruthless. Daily, they picked on me. They chose different “abnormality” about me every week.

Once, they even wrote on the whiteboard of our classroom, reading, “Stay away from the slutty she- male… Her name is Rachel!”

If that wouldn’t make you cry, I do not know what would.

I have always had acne, and it has never really gone away completely. In middle school, it was always prominently on my forehead. So, one day a girl named Summer (Makenzie’s best friend) pointed at me as I walked into homeroom and announced, “Look at that oily, greasy, ugly mess!” Just like that, I was known as forehead girl. That name stuck. Now I go to a different school in a different county than them. Even now, some people that I am still in contact with call me that from time to time. Honestly, it still hurts a little.

One time in particular, in eighth grade, Makenzie and her friends were suddenly and surprisingly nice to me. Because I was taken so off guard, I sat with them at lunch one day at their request. They talked to me for a while, and they seemed engaged and interested in me. Then, all of a sudden, as if it was on cue or rehearsed, three of them began pouring their drinks on me. While that was happening, the guys sitting there shoved their food down my shirt and in my face. I ran crying to the bathroom right after that and stayed there. Nobody asked where I went. Nobody even came looking for me. I was all alone, embarrassed and a complete mess. I already always felt like an idiot because my grades were always borderline failing in every class. What made me feel worse and more idiotic was the fact that I thought for a moment I was liked by them; not by some random person in the hallway, but liked by the popular kids. I felt so ashamed. All I did for the rest of the day was try to clean myself up so that my mom wouldn’t see my dirty clothes and ask questions. At the end of that day, when my mom saw me, I put on a smile and acted as if everything was fine.

I kept a lot of my feelings inside in middle school. I was very emotionally closed off from the world. Even today I am closed off. Not as much as I was then, but I still am. That’s just my nature, and for good reason! Just recently, I experienced another act of bullying directed towards me. It upset me and gave me some pretty upsetting flashbacks of memories from my middle school years.

I am not going to go into the details of this event. What I will do, however, is tell you this:

Bullying does not make anyone feel good. It doesn’t even make the bully feel good. If you are a bully, all it does is show that you are insecure and want to reflect that pain onto someone else to try and rid yourself of it.