On Friday, November 5, early in the morning, 14-year-old Brandon Bitner of Mount Pleasant Mills, Pennsylvania, walked 13 miles from his home and then, around 3 A.M., ran into oncoming traffic and was hit by a tractor-trailer. In the suicide note he left at his home, he said “a humiliating event in school this past week was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.””
From The Daily Item:
There seems to be little doubt in the students’ minds why Bitner did what hedid.
“It was because of bullying,” friend Takara Jo Folk wrote in a letter to The Daily Item.
“It was not about race, or gender, but they bullied him for his sexual preferences and the way he dressed. Which,” she said, “they wrongly accused him of.” …
“I do not appreciate … kids bullying others for their own gratification,” Folk wrote. “Because of bullying, one of my closest friends took his own life.”
Days before, Brandon’s school, Midd-West High School, held an anti-bullying assembly. Wesley Knapp, the district’s Superintendent, said the assembly was not held due to a specific incident or problem at the high school, but because it was “an issue Principal Cynthia Hutchinson has always felt strongly about.”
Another student said:
“Anyone in our school who looks different is tortured,” said sophomore Emily Beall-Ellersieck
In an interview Friday afternoon, the Superintendent said that the school had not received any reports of bullying regarding Brandon Bitner, and none of the staff had reported seeing any incidents of bullying toward Brandon, and no other student had reported to the staff about Brandon being bullied.
But people don’t walk into traffic when nothing is wrong.
Thousands of ‘It Get’s Better” videos later, and kids are still killing themselves. What does that mean? THEY’RE NOT GETTING THE MESSAGE. So what does that mean? We have to keep working. And it’s not just the LGBTQ youth that we have to reach out to. We have to work with the bullies and make them stop. We have to look at our society and our culture and examine the ways that we allow this kind of bullying to continue. If you notice someone, anyone, in your school being bullied for any reason, report it. If you are being bullied, report it. This problem will not go away on its own. It will not go away without us.
If you need someone to talk to, you can call the Trevor Lifeline at any time at 1-866-4-U- TREVOR