Sobering Start to our Let’s Get Real Training in Asheville, NCTuesday 25, May 2010
By Sue Chen, Staff Producer | Let's Get Real
At the end of April, our Respect For All Project facilitators, Nancy Otto and Scott Hirschfeld, led a training in Asheville, North Carolina centered around our anti-bullying film Let’s Get Real. The training was organized by Safe Schools for All, an emerging alliance in western North Carolina of organizations committed to addressing bias-based harassment in the region’s schools. Scott kicked off the session by sharing a gripping suicide note of a 14-year old boy, named Hamed who, after being relentlessly tormented by his peers with slurs like big-nose, four-eyes, geek and fag, 14-year-old Hamed became so depressed that he saw only one way out.
The training attendees—teachers, after school youth service providers, principals, parents, and a couple of clergymembers—asked if we could share Hamed’s last note to his parents, which Scott read out loud at the training. And so we are reprinting it here below. It was printed in the book Cyber Bullying: Issues and Solutions for the School by Shaheen Shariff (Taylor & Francis, Inc.).There is an article about Hamed online.
Here is the excerpt from Hamed’s five-page suicide note explaining his decision:
“Dear Mom and Dad, The first thing is, I love you Mom and Dad, but you didn’t understand why I had to commit suicide. There was so much going on and I tried to cope with it, but I couldn’t take it anymore…It was horrible. Every day I was teased and teased, everyone calling me gay, fag, queer, and I would always act like it didn’t bug me…But I was crying inside me. It hurt me so bad ……and when people said it, my own friends never backed me up. They just laughed… I know that you are going to miss me and that you will never forgive me, but you will never understand. You weren’t living my life. I hate myself for doing this to you. I really, really hate myself, but there is no other way out for me…I love you Dad and Mom. Please, please tell the people at school why I did this. I don’t want somebody else to do what I have done. Mom, after my death please, please go to schools and talk to kids that bullying and teasing has big consequences…Please visit my grave often so I’m not lonely.”
After watching Let’s Get Real and going through the training, the 65 trainees were each eager to start working on the action plan they developed for their own schools and community groups. “It’s an intense way to start off,” Scott reflects, “but it certainly gets us all on the same page about how high the stakes are and how important it is that we all work harder to address these issues.”