(Trigger Warning for…everything)


Terrorist: Let everyone on this list of political prisoners free by midnight Friday or I will blow myself up in a public place and kill innocent bystanders.

Society: We don’t negotiate with terrorists!


Abused wife: He says if I ever leave him, he’ll kill himself, and I believe him.

Society: Girlfriend, you cannot let him blackmail you into spending your whole life with an abuser just because he says he’ll kill himself. He’s accountable for his own decisions, and you need to do what’s right for you and your kids.


LGBT Activists and Fellow-Travelers: If you don’t change your whole belief system to accommodate every conceivable sexual orientation and paraphilia, teenagers will kill themselves and their blood will be on your hands!

Society: Sounds serious, you’d better give them what they’re asking for unless you want kids to kill themselves.


“But the reason that we don’t negotiate with terrorists isn’t that we don’t care if people die. It’s that if we give into their demands we’ll encourage other terrorists, which will result in even more deaths. So the utilitarian calculus demands that we not give in to the suicide bomber, but gay teen suicides are nothing like that.”

Are you so sure? Most reputable studies suggest that when young people are exposed to sensationalist media portrayals of suicide, they are more likely to try it themselves. Columbia University attributes this to “social modeling.” In fact, one of the CDC’s principal recommendations for community response to a teen suicide is that it “should be conducted in a manner that avoids glorification of the suicide victims and minimizes sensationalism.” It also says that the “precise nature of the methods used by decedent(s) in committing suicide should not be disclosed.”

Remember those words: “avoids glorification of the suicide victims and minimizes sensationalism.”

Now take a gander at this article:

An Ohio transgender’s teen’s suicide, a mother’s anguish

Sensationalist details? Check. Precise method of suicide disclosed? Check. Glorification of the victim? Ohhhhhh yes.

Number of Google results for “Leelah Alcorn”? 270,000.

Now imagine that you are a young gay/transsexual teenager with suicidal thoughts who doesn’t feel accepted by his parents. You see this outpouring of affection for a transgender teenager who committed suicide. You see CNN and who knows who else broadcast his suicide note (posted on Tumblr) for all the world to read and feel his pain. You see his mother dragged out for public scorn by the media and internet for her backwards, bigoted mistreatment of him. You see Hollywood stars dedicating their little golden statues to him.*

Is all that going to make you less likely to follow through on your suicidal thoughts, or more so?

And when this pattern repeats itself over and over, when the media talks hysterically about an epidemic of gay teen suicides (despite a paucity of evidence that there is one) might that become a form of “social modeling?”

“What, so you are saying that WE, the LGBT allies, are somehow responsible for gay teen suicides?”

No, I don’t accuse people of murder when they haven’t killed anyone. It’s refreshing, you should try it.

*Like most straight men with gainful employment, I do not watch the Golden Globes. I found that article by Googling “Leelah Alcorn hagiography.” Well done, Google, very well done.

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