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StudCo honors victims

Resolution advocates suicide prevention, supports tonight

Student Council unanimously passed a bill at its meeting last night dedicated to encouraging suicide prevention and honoring individuals who have committed suicide as a direct or indirect result of bullying. The resolution names nine teenagers across the country who recently took their lives, as well as Kevin Morrissey, the late managing editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review whose former boss is currently being investigated for abusive office practices.

Many of the teenagers who were named were bullied for reasons related to their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. For example, Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself Sept. 9 after his classmates harassed him. Asher Brown, 13, shot himself after being accused of being gay and having mock gay acts performed on him during gym class.

"The bullying affecting gay people is one of the major reasons for LGBT suicides," said Engineering representative Seth Kaye, who sponsored the bill. "There's lots of reasons why people commit suicide. I highlighted one of them and I will continue to highlight the others."

Accompanying this resolution will be a vigil held on the Corner-side steps of the Rotunda tonight at 7 p.m. to honor recent suicide victims. In addition, individuals across the nation will wear purple today to honor those gay teenagers who committed suicide after being bullied for their perceived sexuality.

When presenting the bill, Kaye stressed that it was not targeted exclusively at the gay community. Morrissey, for example, was not gay, and his death appears to be related strictly to workplace bullying.

"The underlying point is this isn't a gay issue, this isn't a straight issue," Medical representative Erik Criman said. "We shouldn't make that case."

The issue of suicide is a particularly important subject among young adults, as suicide is the second-leading cause of death on college campuses.

The resolution cited the statistic that 90 percent of LGBT students have reported facing harassment at school, noting that this and complementary statistics are reasons to promote education about the warning signs of suicide and how students can seek help for themselves and others.

"I think it's cruel what happened [with the suicides]," third-year College student Adithya Peruri said. "I don't think anyone should have to kill themselves."

Kaye said the main goal of the bill will be to create advertising for suicide prevention and broadcast the anti-suicide message to as many people as possible.

Diversity Initiatives Co-Chair Carrie Filipetti said students should take care to make the University a social climate where bullying should not be tolerated.

"Bullying is a result of wanting to be accepted by your peers," she said. Bullying will stop, she continued, "if you create a climate where the bullies don't get that social acceptance that they're looking for"

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