Monday, July 22, 2013

Another One: Carlos Vigil

Last week 17-year-old Carlos Vigil killed himself.

No big deal; he was just another one of those LGBTQ youth whose life ended because he listened to the rants of other students who bullied him and called him a ‘loser’ and a ‘fag’. He was kind of chubby, and he wore glasses and he had bad skin, and he was gay. All perfectly justifiable reasons to drive someone to kill themselves. Weight, skin, eyesight, sexual orientation.

But before he ended his life, Carlos posted on social media that he could no longer take it; he posted that those who bullied him were right; he posted that it was time his life ended:

Ray Vigil, Carlos' father, raced home as soon as he saw his son’s Twitter post, but it was too late. Carlos was rushed to the hospital, and placed on life support, but, again, his family realized he would never recover and Carlos Vigil died; because he was a ‘fag’ and a ‘loser’ according to his fellow students. And he'd been one for almost his entire life.

Carlos' mother, Jacqueline, recalls a time when her son was just eight and had a Smiley Face lunchbox. A Smiley face; that was enough for the kids at school to tease and taunt him, and to take that lunchbox and stomp it to pieces; "He is not here because of bullying. It drove him over the edge."

A lunchbox. Bad skin. A little chubby. A pair of glasses. Being gay.
"We found out three years ago that he was going through this stuff and we've been trying to help him every day since. We realize he's been going through it every day since he was in the third grade, that's a long time for a child to hold that within himself."—Ray Vigil
The saddest part of all is that, even though he was one of the bullied, Carlos Vigil had dedicated his teenage years to advocating against bullying. He wanted it to end, not just for himself but for every single person in this country, everywhere; he wanted bullying to stop.

How sad that someone who worked to fight bullying, finally succumbed to the wishes of the bullies who attacked him.

How sad that those vicious students will continue in school, continue in life, grow older, perhaps get married and raise a family, when their hate-filled words took the life of another.

How sad that we continue to let this happen.

We continue to stand by and shake our heads and mutter about the tragedy, and then we turn the TV back on, or skip those posts on Twitter and Facebook about kids being tortured to death.

How sad, for all of us, but even sadder that Carlos Vigil, and so many others, have left us far too soon.

We can talk all we want about bullying and how much we despise it, but the time is over for just talk. The time is ripe for students who bully other students for any reason to be held accountable for their actions. That schools that look the other way when students are being tortured be held accountable. That teachers and parents who recite that old adage, Kids will be kids be held accountable.

Or, we can just mourn another lost life, another lost chance. Once again.


Anonymous said...

Bob, this makes me ill reading it. Nobody should feel like they're an affront to the human race just because they exist.

We went through something related with our son. He has Aspergers, and some kids thought it was great fun to do things that set him off. We ended up filing a police report when things turned physical, and we held the school administrators' feet to the fire. We became THOSE parents, and that's what it took to send a message to some other parents. Not pleasant but very necessary.

Sean R.

the dogs' mother said...

Good for, SeanR, one of Those Parents. Schools have to face up. Take your children out of public school, get an advocate from your state's group for exceptional kids, hire a lawyer and force the school to pay for it all plus hire me (to be a one-on-one tutor, well, someone like me :-)
It has to be more painful (unbelievable as that is) than losing a student to suicide. It has to hurt their bottom line. And states this is going to cost you money - you need more people on the ground to watch over children. Cut out some of your pie in the sky programs or we won't have any children let to take over the work.

(rant over for this morning) Wishing comfort and peace to Carlo's parents.

Bob Slatten said...

More parents need to step up like you did and DEMAND that this stop in schools or expel the students doing the bullying.
Good on you!

Bob Slatten said...

Stop protecting the schools and teachers and administrators and bullies.
Protect the students, or pay for it.

Anonymous said...

@TDM, Thanks for the compliment.
(You too Bob!)

Actually our son was home-schooled for several years until: 1. Mom was burnt out with it. 2. We thought he could handle public school. (His Mom is a certified special-ed teacher. That helps!

We're working through some marital trouble right now, which made him more likely to go off on his classmates. This didn't help.

We are prepared to pull him out of the school again if we have to.

Sean R.

viktor kerney said...

I wish he would have hang on in there

Ron said...


Every time I hear of another "Carlos" succumbing to the hate and vitriol, my heart breaks. I wonder why it is that the "Carlos's" don't or can't fight back. I was bullied several times during school but each time I fought back, with my fists. That ended the bullying.

I was bullied when I was in Basic Training in the Army. I almost killed the kid who was bullying me. Thank God our weapons were locked up each night in our barracks because if they weren't I am sure I would probably have killed him. As it was I went after him with a broom handle and was stopped before I could get to him. I was lucky.

Today I fight bullying by living openly as a gay man in a predominately straight neighborhood. I don't flaunt myself with a rainbow flag or "fag it up" but I do live openly as a gay man and demand to be treated with the same respect as my heterosexual neighbors, co-workers and anyone else I encounter during my daily comings and goings. Just last week I had our marriage announcement printed in the local paper, the first same sex marriage announcement in this paper ever. I'm sure that announcement pissed off some homophobes but so what? They need to be pissed off and confronted that they are no longer in charge and control my life or the life of any other gay man or woman.

Because I could handle bullying when I was a 12 year old doesn't mean every young gay child can, I understand that. I wish I had an answer how to overcome the bullying of young people like that. Perhaps we should start first with stopping with the jokes of "that's so gay", and the "fag" references even though it is a joke. And yes, I know I just used that "fag" term in this comment. Teachers and those adults when they see a young child being bullied should step in right away and put a stop to it immediately. I don't think this always happens, the thinking being that letting the child handle the bullying on his own with "strengthen him." That's what happened with me, I never once had an adult go to bat or defend me even though they saw and knew what was going on. Perhaps my biggest disappointment was my father, he wouldn't even stand up for me. I was on my own. Either I fought back or I sank. I decided to fight back. When I was outnumbered I ran away, of course. And when I was in the Army where I would have caused serious damage by coming out, I hid in the closet.

You know yourself Bob what you did to survive. So many of us do. However, I do feel bad for those who don't have the sense of self-worth or even courage to stand up for themselves and fight back. To me you either fight back or they win. That's what life is about.

Bob Slatten said...

I, too, was bullied for being 'perceived' as gay--I wasn't sure I was at the time.

But these days it isn't just a shove in the hall or a bad word thrown at you. It's gangs of kids, and some teachers, and some school administrators, who bully you to your face and all over social media.

It's relentless and unending, and some of these kids don't realize it'll get better.

That's why I am SO pro-coming out.

The more of us who are out, will show these bullied kids that it's okay, that they will survive and thrive and live and love as they are meant to do.

Anonymous said...

I was bullied when I was younger. It only stopped after I beat the crap out of a few kids and became "that honor student who spends time in detention for fighting".

I wish all it would take for this to end would be to get school teachers and administrators to understand what's going on, but sadly many of them don't want to take action or stand up to bullying.

This has to stop. And I'm glad Sean R. IS one of those parents.

Frank said...

Very sad and disturbing. Bullying, (and I think the term bullying is too innocuous and 'cute' ) is not just a school problem. The attitudes that underlie bullying are deeply embedded in our culture, or at least in some primitive sub-culture of human imbeciles. It is time for zero tolerance.

Bob Slatten said...

Zero tolerance is the best way to combat this harassment and torture.
If you do it, you're gone.
Maybe then the parents of these vicious students might actually step up and PARENT!

anne marie in philly said...