I've said it many times: words have power, especially in the age of social media where those words can spread like fire for the whole world to see. Now, I'm limited in my capacity to say how hurtful those words can be. You can only learn how painful it is to be tormented by your peers through hearing personal stories like this one. Here in my home state of Iowa, 14 year old freshman Kenneth Weishuhn told his community that he was gay. His friends turned against him, and about a month later on April 14, he committed suicide.
Here is what his older sister Kayla had to say about her brother.
Think before you speak. Consider the fact that the person you're tearing down is a real, flesh-and-blood human being. They have feelings, and they need to feel loved just like anyone else. And sometimes, when someone is surrounded by rejection from all sides, the love they still get from their family isn't enough to combat the pain.
People may say they didn't intend for things to go this far, but that doesn't change the fact that they did. There are far too many stories like this one. There's no longer any room for the excuse "Well, I didn't know it could end this way." If you've ever read or seen the news, you know. And believe me, caving in to the pressure to fit in right now won't drown out the regret you may feel later for hurting someone, even if it doesn't go as far as suicide.
Just think before you actively harm someone this way. Say what you will, but know what can happen and ask "Is it worth this?"
This story, as well as the countless others like it, must remind us of what can go wrong.