On January 18th, 2011, my 14 year old cousin Kameron took his own life. Unfortunately, he is not the first person that I have known to commit suicide but it is the first time suicide touched mine & my family's lives in such a close and real way. My heart broke upon hearing the news and still breaks, especially for my aunt,uncle and two cousins that live every single day without seeing their precious son/brother. The thought that keeps running through my head when I think about Kameron and what happened is "I wish everyone could have told him that it gets better." We all know that when you're 14, life can seem so much worse than it is.
Kameron dealt with bullies in school, which is something that I dealt with when I was his age. There was a point in my life when I was in 5th, 6th and 7th grade, when things started to get awkward and confusing and I was constantly being picked on (like so many others are) and the thought of taking my own life ran through my head a lot. My parents were going through a divorce, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and a couple of other issues were going on at home. And although I had love from my family and at home, all I wanted was a little escape when I entered the doors at school. However, an escape is exactly what I didn't have. It was pure hell at times. And if felt that life was never going to get better, but of course it did.
When you're young and just starting to deal with the not-so-perfect realities of life, everything seems 10 times worse. The last thing you want is a bunch of kids picking on you when you just want to feel accepted by someone because sometimes it's hard to even accept yourself.
When I found out that he was going through these things, my heart broke even more because I had been there too. I at one point felt what he was feeling and I wish I could have somehow told him "this sucks but it's going to stop soon and life is going to start." There is a light at the end of every tunnel. Because there are going to be dark times when you're 14, when you're 22 when you're 55. There will always be dark times but it will always get better. Sometimes those bullying stories that were once the source of so much pain can actually turn into good (and sometimes funny) stories 10 years later when sitting around with friends. As you grow older, you learn that a lot of people went through it too. It feels less weird and scary. But at the time, it's the worst thing in the world.
I will always remember Kameron as a very calm, gentle, handsome and quiet boy. Never once demanding any type of attention or causing any type of trouble. Not only did my family lose an amazing person, but the entire world lost one too. This just shouldn't happen.
In life, there are going to be bullies every single day in some way or another until you're old and gray. People are going to want to push you down, and perhaps you yourself may have pushed people down along the way without even realizing it. Feeling bullied is not something that just 14 year olds face, however being that young means not being prepared to deal with the emotional stress of feeling bullied. This is when parents/teachers/peers need to step in to stop this, or atleast recognize it in schools so no one has to live through hell in the hallways.
So in an effort to raise awareness and pay tribute to Kameron's life, my family has founded Kindness Above Malice or KAM- a foundation with a mission to affirm individual students that have raised the self esteem of another person, thereby preventing the injury that results from bullying. If you'd like to learn more about KAM and find out how you can help, please head over to the website here and follow on twitter.