Thursday, December 06, 2012

Another One: Josh Pacheco

Josh Pacheco left a note:
"I'm sorry I wasn't able to be strong enough."
And then he was gone. He was just seventeen when he took his own life because, his parents believe, of the bullying he endured for simply being gay.
“My son was very funny and exceptionally sensitive and loving to other people’s feelings.”--Lynette Capehart, Josh's mother.
It had been two months since Josh had come out to his mother, and two months since she'd replied to him that she loved him just the same. But, sadly, sometimes that isn't enough. No matter how much love you feel, from friends and parents, to siblings--and Josh had four, Alicia, 20, Tiffani, 19, Grant, 14, and Haylee, 12--the real world often worms its way inside, and pushes you and taunts you and makes life miserable; to the point you just want it to stop.

"Linden High School junior Josh Pacheco had a heart for theater and an infectious smile, but above all else he cared for others, his family said.
Pacheco, 17, committed suicide Nov. 27. His parents believe bullying is to blame.
Pacheco was part of the Fenton-based Kidz Theatre Kompany, worked at Tim Hortons, loved his advanced placement politics class and called his four siblings his best friends, Capehart said.
Pacheco also was gay, which led to him being bullied both inside and outside of school, said his mother, Lynnette Capehart."
Lynnette and Josh's stepfather, Michael Capehart, didn't know that Josh was being bullied, because most people being harassed tend to keep it to themselves out of fear and shame; out of the hope that it might just stop. But it didn't for Josh Pacheco.

Lynette Capehart first realized something was wrong after this years' Homecoming Dance in October. Though she was out of town, she made a point to call home and ask Josh about the dance, but he was upset and crying, and wouldn't, couldn't, say why.

It wasn't until after her son killed himself that Lynette found out that Josh had been routinely pushed into lockers and taunted by other students.
“He was having problems with bullying. He didn’t really want to tell us very much. It was very disheartening to me.”--Lynette Capehart.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Josh had long conversations with his two older sisters about life, questioning his life, and the future. The comments he made left Lynette and Michael worried, and Lynette talked to Josh that Sunday; the next day she set up an appointment for him to see a counselor; but suddenly Josh seemed "back to normal."

Then, on Tuesday, November 27, Michael Capehart saw Josh's Facebook status, quoting a line from Bilbo Baggins, a character in the "Lord of the Rings" movies: 
"I regret to announce that this is the end. I'm going now, I bid you all a very fond farewell. Goodbye."
At work, Michael Capehart was frantic, and called a neighbor to check on Josh--who had stayed home sick that day. The neighbor found Josh, in his truck, non-responsive, the engine running and the doors closed.
“We had just lost one of the gentlest spirits God had ever created.” Lynnette Capehart.
After Josh's death, Lynnette and Michael Capehart being hearing from friends and parents about how Josh had been bullied and, at the funeral, teachers also mentioned that they believed Josh was being taunted and harassed at school.

Needless to say, Lynnette was stunned; no one had ever mentioned this to her, and no one at the school had ever called to tell her about their suspicions. it's like that dirty little secret that everyone keeps until someone dies, and then the stories come out.

But what if one friend had called Lynnette and Michael and told them; if one teacher had reported what they'd seen, or heard, or suspected. Maybe Josh wouldn't have gone into the garage that day. Maybe he'd still be around, laughing with his brother and sisters, enjoying his life.

Michael Capehart has vowed to keep in constant communication with school officials until some action is taken with the students who were involved in the bullying. He said he has contacted an attorney to possibly create a better state law to prevent bullying in the future.
“After years of bullying, look what it can do to a life.”--Michael Capehart.
Look indeed.

Rest In Peace, Josh. 

And, for those of you still here, that are being bullied, that see others being bullied, speak up. Tell someone. Let people know how you are being treated because, no matter what the bullies say, you don't deserve it; no one does.

Please don't wait for another young person to die before you speak up.


Becca said...

This is incredibly saddening, and maddening. I will never understand how kids are able to get away with bullying, without either their conscience or teachers calling them out on it.

Suicide is a really complex thing. I work in mental health, and we have pretty routine trainings on suicide prevention. One important thing to look for is the "back to normal" state people enter right before they take their life. It's a pretty common thing for someone who is suicidal to become "happy" or "normal" right before they attempt suicide, because they often gain a sense of hope from knowing they don't have to endure the suffering any longer. It's so sad. I can't imagine losing a child that way.

Just one more reason to fight for equality and refuse to back down.

designing wally said...

After 9/11 NYC really drove in to our minds, "If you see something, say something".
I have often thought this would be a good standard in the fights against bullying and bigotry...

I am really getting tired of hoping that something good will come out of these tragedies.

Bill Dameron said...

This is just so heart breaking. I am literally in tears. That is all I can say.

Mitchell is Moving said...

So heartbreaking. I wish there were something I/we could do or say that would stop this from happening.

the dogs' mother said...

When the twins were in middle school a girl was lost to bullying by the 'cool' girl group she so wanted to join. It is time for people to stop fighting anti-bullying education because of their religious beliefs. It needs to go forward and be very explicit.

Toseef Ahmad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ms Sparrow said...

It just breaks your heart all over again to hear about this happening to still another young person. I hope those bullies will be haunted the rest of their lives over this!

Heather said...

Josh was my cousin. He was exceptional. I've always thought he would be internationally known, but for his talents and intellect, not for his suffering. The current Michigan anti-bullying laws permit open bullying if based on religious convection. This is horrific, as it leaves every person open to being bullied in the name of God(s). I cannot imagine what he faced everyday -- and not just at school. He was very sensitive and spiritual, well versed in the bible and religion. It breaks my heart knowing that he heard he was going to hell for his lifestyle "choice". Hopefully our loss can help change these laws for other teens. We forget how hard being a teenager is.

anne marie in philly said...

I want to take those bullies and slam their heads into their lockers until they bleed to death!

Anonymous said...

Its sad that people don't know the real truth to why that poor beautiful boy took his life that day.