We can go ahead and add not one, but two more teenagers to the list of bullying victims who have left us far too soon. Lance Lundsten (18) and Tiffani Maxwell (16) are dead.
Lundsten reportedly attempted suicide in his home in Miltona, Minnesota on Saturday. He was pronounced dead later in the evening at Douglas County Hospital. His Facebook page listed him as openly gay, which led to unbearable bullying at his high school. One of his final posts reads, “Love knows no gender, color, or religion.”
Senator Al Franken offered his words, “My heart goes out to Lance’s family, and friends and loved ones. It’s a tragic event, not only for them, but for the school, and the Alexandria community and really for all of us,” upon hearing the news. “LGBT kids really do need (more) protection,” Franken said. “They’re two or three times more likely than straight kids to get bullied. Nine in ten LGBT students said they’ve been bullied or harassed and almost two-thirds say they don’t feel safe in school.”
High School Junior, Tiffani Maxwell also killed herself Saturday in Pennsylvania. While it’s unclear if she identified as LGBT, she reportedly was also a victim of rabid bullying. Fellow classmates at Slippery Rock High relentlessly teased and texted Maxwell about attending rehab for drug use after she was expelled from school. Her parents say that while their daughter did leave the school, neither the drug use nor rehab claims were true.
Maxwell’s death, if possible, is almost even more frustrating than Lundsten’s, if her parents are correct. This 16 year old girl died for nothing. She killed herself after being hounded not for who she was, but for who others perceived her to be.
Our thoughts and hearts go out to the family, friends, and loved ones of both Lundsten and Maxwell. Suicide is never the only option, readers. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.