"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"If You Are Reading This, It Means I Have Committed Suicide"

"If you are reading this, it means I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue."

So starts a suicide note written by Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender teenager who died this week in the US state of Ohio. Alcorn scheduled the note to be published several hours after her death.

In the letter posted on Tumblr, she said she killed herself after years of struggling with her strict Christian parents' refusal to acknowledge her true identity as a female.

"There's no winning. There's no way out... People say 'it gets better' but that isn't true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse," Alcorn wrote in the post which has since been reblogged more than 196,000 times. The hashtag #LeelahAlcorn also went viral, with more than 243,000 mentions over two days.

Alcorn ended her note with a plea: "The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was... My death needs to mean something. Fix society. Please."

Many saw the public suicide note as a way to both provide awareness of trans issues and provide Alcorn a final measure of dignity.

"By scheduling tumblr posts, #LeelahAlcorn defeated measures by her parents to defame her legacy, her life, herself," wrote Twitter user @Unit0053.

User @RozeWithaZee tweeted, "Just had an epiphany that #Tumblr saved #LeelahAlcorn's life from being misrepresented entirely. She was able to tell her actual story."

But experts say there are risks to a message of this nature going viral.

"In a way, it's a double-edged sword," said Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Moultier explained that stories like Alcorn's can be used to raise awareness about suicide, transgender issues and mental illness - but that high-profile suicides sometimes come with tragic, unintended consequences.

"It's sensationalised in and of itself," Moultier said of the post, noting that the phenomenon of suicide contagion, where one suicide leads to the death of others, is especially high among troubled teens.

Moultier also notes that while Alcorn's note focuses on the external circumstances that led her to kill herself - what she felt was a lack of acceptance by her religious parents - it only touches on the mental health problems that underlie more than 90% of suicides.

Tumblr could not comment on Leelah Alcorn's post, but the sharing platform's community guidelines seem to reflect the grey area between using social media as a forum to help those who feel alienated and alone, and the danger of providing a place where disturbing messages can be shared globally.

The policy states "don't post content that actively promotes or glorifies self harm," but recognises that the internet is a place where people dealing with suicidal thoughts, eating disorders and cutting look for support.

"Dialogue about these behavours is incredibly important and online communities can be extraordinarily helpful to people struggling with these difficult conditions. We aim for Tumblr to be a place that facilitates awareness, support and recovery, and we will remove only those posts or blogs that cross the line into active promotion or glorification of self-harm."

Whether Alcorn's note is seen as a springboard for change or a trigger for other at-risk youths remains up for debate - but either way, her note has sparked a global conversation.

And it's a conversation I would like to continue here. As a born-again, fairly conservative Christian, I have great difficulty with people who appear to be born gay or transgender as Leelah's parents did. Christians tend to believe that all life is created by God and so God would not create someone with the emotional characteristics of a girl and the physical characteristics of a boy. Yet, it happens!

We can blame it on spiritual attack or invasion but is that realistic? Not that I don't believe in spiritual attacks and invasions, I certainly do, but why would God allow such a thing to happen to an unborn or newborn baby?

Our own adopted daughter was born with Spina Bifida, hydrocephalus; through several surgeries contracted meningitis and lost most of the use of her right hand, and is mentally restricted to the level of a 6 year old. She also has fatal food allergies. Was that God's plan for her? Was she demonized because of her parent's eastern religion?

She's 26 now, knows Jesus, and is personal friends with Christian singer/songwriter Brian Doerksen. She knows the words to every song he ever wrote. Is this a case of "What the devil meant for ill, God turned to good?" Gen 50:20.

I do not believe that God creates sick or broken or sexually confused children; but I do believe such children are born, whether it is a spiritual cause or just the consequences of man's free will and God's unwillingness to usurp that will, as with the sexual abuse of billions of children in the 21st century.

In any case, we as Christians have to respond with more compassion and allow God to do whatever He will do in that child's life. Driving your child to suicide is never right! There is no love in legalism!