Over the last few years, the news of teenagers, even children, committing suicide because of bullying and threats from their peers, has inundated us. Most recently, a 10-year-old Illinois girl committed suicide after reporting to her parents that she was constantly bullied at school. Being called fat, ugly, and ostracized for seemingly no reason, Ashlynn Conner took her own life by hanging herself from a knitted scarf in her closet.
Jamey Rodemeyer, 14, killed himself in September after he was bullied at school and online for being gay.
Eight-year-old Tori Blair hanged herself from a tree in May because of the same thing: bullying.
The list of young people who took their own lives extend beyond the word count available for this article, but there is something to be said about the power of words of which we all need to be cognizant.
Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences (New Living Translation)
What we say out of our mouths has the power to bring life or death to any situation, person, or circumstance. The most detrimental component to speaking death to someone, much like what is said in cases of bullying, are the words that we release into the atmosphere.
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus taught extensively about the power of our words. He made it very clear through his teachings that anything we wanted we could obtain through what we say. He said, "If you speak to this mountain to be thrown into the sea, it will happen." (Matthew 21:21) Our words have the ability to bless and to curse and it is not something that we should take lightly. Every word we speak we will have to answer for (I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak - Matthew 12:36) and the careless words that we say can have an impact, not only on others but in our own lives as well.
Adults are equally reckless with our words; many times, I've heard and read people tell others to kill themselves in jest. The phrase "go kill yourself" has flooded our vernacular noting that if you don't do "this" or if you wear "that", you should just "kill yourself." A recent search for the phrase "kill yourself" on Twitter found thousands of tweets from people all over the world telling others to go kill themselves for the simplest of infractions. "If you can't spell and you have a kid, go kill yourself," one tweet read. "If you really think Drake is a hot rapper, go kill yourself," said another. We don't realize that there are real people behind the 140 characters who are more broken and sad than their social media "representatives" let on.
While for most people, an invitation to commit suicide isn't taken seriously, for many it is. For the countless kids, teenagers, and even adults who had the words "go kill yourself, your life doesn't matter", spoken over their life, the burden of proof falls on those people whose words did exactly what they said they would do.
We are charged with the responsibility to look after each other as a body of believers and that accountability begins and ends with the words we speak to each other. The power God gave us to change the landscape of our world through our words is a powerful, yet dangerous tool to be used with caution and care. We should strive to use our mouths as the Psalmist David did in Psalm 19:14: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Today, use your words to uplift, to change your world for the better, to give life to those who are in need!
Follow Alisha L. Gordon, M.Ed. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AlishaLGordon