Thursday, November 17, 2011

My heart is broken.

Day 3: Something you feel strongly about.

I'd like to share a story today.  On Friday, a beautiful ten-year-old fifth grade girl named Ashlynn Conner committed suicide in her home.  Yesterday was her funeral.  Her picture is to your right.

This breaks my heart.

When I first read the article about young Ashlynn, about how her teenage sister found her hanging from a scarf in her closet, about two weeks before she had come home from school and begged to be home-schooled because of the bullying she faced each day, I burst into tears.  Ten years old.  Ashlynn was still the age to play with dolls and make up games on the playground, not to be contemplating her own death.

Ten years old.

Obviously, something must be done about the bullying.  Students at Ashlynn's school called her a "slut" and teased her because of her weight... although look at the picture to the right, I don't see anything but a beautiful little girl with a smile that could light up any room.  If the bullying in public schools has gotten so bad that fifth grade girls are turning to suicide, then there is obviously a huge problem.

However, I'd like to discuss something else I feel strongly about that involves Ashlynn's death.
I feel like suicide is taken far too lightly.  Popular websites like Go Cry Emo Kid joke about dark and depressed young people, self injury, and even suicide.  Everyone seems aware of suicide these days and it seems like I hear jokes about it on a weekly basis.  Almost every day, I see fellow students bringing a finger to their head and pretending to shoot themselves out of frustration about school work or stress... not seriously, of course, but as a joke... like suicide is "funny."  I've spoken to groups of young girls and received multiple emails from readers of this blog and it seems like many, many young people have contemplated or even attempted suicide before the age of eighteen.  I did as well.
What is it that has made life seem like something to be thrown away so easily?

It's almost as if contemplating suicide has been accepted as a normal behavior of young people, and that is entirely unacceptable.  It's not okay.  Life is meant to be valued and treasured, not hated and destroyed.

Look at the face of beautiful Ashlynn Conner.  Look at her smile, at the light in her eyes.  With one stupid mistake, she has thrown away her life.  She has broken the heart of her family and friends.  She has taken away her bright future on this earth.  And part of me wonders if she even fully understood what she was doing and how final death actually is, or if she was simply following what has become a terrible, terrible option.

I lost a good friend to suicide.  He was only fifteen years old at the time.  His decision was impulsive and hurt so many people who knew and loved him.  He was extremely talented, loving, and smart.  He loved music and was the best guitarist I've ever met.  I saw what my friend's actions did to his friends and family and to my own heart.  I grieved for him.  After my friend committed suicide, I was quickly forced to learn what suicide really meant, the finality and pain and selfishness of it all... and I was horrified to have to admit to myself that even I had dealt with those issues myself only a year before.  Until suicide affected me personally, I had no idea how serious it actually was.

Please, please never joke about suicide.  It isn't funny.  It isn't okay.  It only breaks hearts and ends bright futures.

And finally, I feel like suicide is made to be too much of an option.  We talk about how bullying leads to suicide so often and they even have little workshops in a lot of schools and health classes to raise awareness about what red flags to look for in your friends... and I'm torn about it.  To an extent, raising awareness about suicide is a good thing.  It can save lives.  But does the magnitude of awareness being made about suicide in high schools, middle schools, (and now even elementary schools) only place the idea of suicide in young students' minds?  I'm not sure.  Ashlynn had to get the idea from somewhere.  I was bulied in the fifth grade, but I'm not sure if hanging myself would ever have even occurred to me as a ten-year-old girl.

When I saw Ashlynn's photograph and heard her story for the first time, I cried.  Even now, my heart breaks for her family and for her lost future.  And my heart also breaks for her bullies.  They were so young as well and they will hold the guilt of Ashlynn's death in their hearts for a very, very long time.  Let's be sure to lift up everyone who knew Ashlynn in prayer this week and whenever we remember her sweet smile.


  1. Oh, dear God...
    Suicide is something that is really close to my heart, and it just breaks me to pieces. My little sister is ten years old, the same age as Ashlynn. To even consider my sister committing suicide, it's just unimaginably cruel and heart-wrenching.

    Bullying really needs to be taken seriously...and suicide is not a joke or something to entertain light statements with. I just wish everyone could see it.

    I just wish I could do something about it all...

  2. Soooo sad. I looked up the news story for this and found out that she lived in a small town semi-near where I'm from... I also found out that there is ANOTHER 10 year old who committed suicide just this Monday named Samantha West. I completely agree with you.

  3. My quick Google search on this led me to another article about an 8-year-old who committed suicide.

    I was bullied a LOT in school- especially between the ages of 7 and 13. When I was 12, I spent a lot of time praying for strength to get through it... and for a way out. To me, a way out was moving from Virginia to New Jersey. The concept of suicide didn't really hit me until I was closer to 15 or 16. I'm not even sure I knew what suicide WAS when I was 8... or even 10.

    I've definitely been guilty of those suicide jokes. I've joked around about a lot of things that aren't funny before- just to try to make myself feel better. I know of others who have done the same.

    At the same time, I was convicted about making those kinds of jokes a few years ago, and now it's at the point where it really bothers me. I have a very good friend who often does the "finger gun" thing when she's frustrated or says something stupid. I've told her that it bothers me, but she doesn't seem to think it's a big deal. She's not being serious about it.

    Part of me wonders if my sensitivity to jokes like that are related to the fact that those thoughts are still fresh in my mind. I still struggle with suicidal thoughts.

    But, I'm also realizing that there might be a bigger reason why it breaks my heart.

  4. This story is heartbreaking to me, especially because I know how it feels to just want everything to end. Nobody should ever have to feel so terrible about themselves that they choose to commit suicide. Especially not a ten year old girl.

    A little over a month ago I tried to commit suicide. It is the biggest regret of my life...just thinking of how different it could have turned out is so scary. I thank God for giving me a second chance and not allowing me to die that night. That night was just so dark and overwhelming, but during the week after, while I wondered if I was even going to survive, I felt God with me and I realized how much I wanted to live.

    If anyone out there is even thinking about suicide, please just believe me, things might seem overwhelming right now, it might seem like nothing will ever be right, but there is a bright future out there for you, and there is a God that loves more than anything. And in the middle of your pain He is right there, holding you close.

  5. ten my self it is not a joke that people realy think of it of being one I get bullied but i would not kill my self over it I would punch them in the face and see how it feels in side when they do this kind if stuff to you I was also home shcooled because of this in third grade , but im back to public shcool and fith grade is tuff because th kids get clever with you and the stuff hurts even more when thers a roomer about it and almost every one knows then some kid will walk up to you and say somthing stupid and you dont even know what there talking about

  6. Recently my daughter experienced some bullying in her high school and also at her dance studio. It has been the most difficult 6mths of her life so far! She had to quit her studio after being there for 5 years and because she was becoming really withdrawn at school I let her leave. These girls were saying things about her sexuality which were extremely offensive and she was called a C..t on facebook by another girl. She is only 13 and this experience has had a devasting effect however it could have been worse if she had decided to end it. As a 15 year old I tried to committ suicide due to bullying and I think my past made me fully aware of the events that can lead to feeling that desperate. At no point did she want to take her life but I guess if it had continued to go on who knows what would have happen. I am one of the lucky parents who knew how bad things were as my daughter told me things and opened up about her feelings etc for Emily's parents this didnt occur as she didnt talk to her parents about what was happening. I only hope that Emily's story will make others aware of the effects of bullying.