Desensitization

I have written a few times about how I have, of necessity, become desensitized to losing friends.  I've lost friends because of prejudice because I'm gay and because of differing religious views.  It still hurts.  In fact, just yesterday I drove near the house of someone I was once very good friends with but haven't heard much from since I came out of the closet.  But, I have become desensitized somewhat to the pain of losing friends.

However, one thing that I don't believe I will ever become desensitized to--and I hope never to be desensitized to--is the pain I feel when I hear that someone has died.  In particular, I am referring to situations where a person has reached that level of despair where suicide seems to be the best available option.

Jack Reese, a resident of Mountain Green, Utah, has just killed himself.  He was the target of bullying at his school.  (Read more here and here.)  Whenever I read a story like this one, I feel a deep sense of pain, regret, and disappointment.  I feel the pain inside the youth--I cannot comprehend the level of despair that must have been present to invoke such an action, but I do understand to a degree.  I feel regret that he was not able to live his life out to its fullest and be allowed to contribute all of the wonderful and glorious things he may well have contributed to society.  And I feel disappointment in society for not providing the loving and tolerant atmosphere that he, and all people, needed.

I never knew this young man.  All I know about him is that he was a handsome young man with a boyfriend.  I assume that they loved each other.  I assume that they were happy together.  I assume that if they had been boy and girl instead of two boys, they may have been a very popular couple.  I assume that he was an average teenage boy--that he was very happy at times, at other times very sad, that he had aspirations for the future and dreams for what he wanted to be when he "grew up".

I wonder how I would feel if I were this boy's father and I knew that I had been one of the factors contributing to him feeling that he was not worthy of life.  Or what if I was his school's principal and I did not take the necessary measures to instruct students that bullying was unacceptable?  How would I feel if I were one of the bullies at his school who called him a name or told him that he was sinful for being in love?  Would I be able to live with the guilt?  Could I really be so cold as to dismiss it as his own guilty conscience eating away at him for continuing in his sin?  What if I was a friend, who told him that I accepted him for who he was but still tried to encourage him to change and become straight?  How would I feel, knowing that my own words might have been one of the things telling him that he was not who he was meant to be?

I know Mountain Green.  I have family there.  I've been there many times for family functions.  I've been sledding and snowmobiling there.  I never knew any of the residents other than my own family members, but I do know the location.  This extra familiarity makes this a more sentimental experience for me personally.  I want it to be sentimental.  I want to feel deep emotion in connection with this story.  It makes me feel human to do so.  I want to be the kind of person who cares about each individual life and does what he can to preserve it.  I do not want to be so desensitized that I become as the bullies who pushed this young man to his death.