Michael recently attempted suicide due to the teasing he received for being a fan of the show My Little Pony - aka, a brony. Michael's suicide attempt was halted, but resulted in severe brain damage. He is currently in the hospital's ICU, and has yet to "fully awaken."
If you're still reeling from all the horrors in those few sentences, rest assured, so am I. As someone on Facebook pointed out last night, "An 11-year-old shouldn't even know what suicide is!" And to be driven to such desperation over bullying, and bullying over a TV show?
My heart is sick with grief.
Carrie Goldman, who many of you will remember as "Star Wars Katie's mom," has written up an excellent, informative, and absolutely heart-shattering article on Michael here. Bring tissues. Because in addition to the tragedy, Carrie's also covers the way the geek and brony community is coming together to support Michael's family. Here's a snippet:
"The outpouring of support from the Bronies community has astonished the family. Suttle [Michael's stepdad] left a message for Andrea Libman, who does the voice of Pinkie Pie, asking if she might send a message of support to Michael. Libman was in South Australia on vacation, and she found a way to record a personal message for Suttle to play for Michael. In addition, she got every member of the cast to record individual messages for the boy.
“When we play the My Little Pony messages for him, there is increased activity on the EEG,” Suttle said.
Aaaand that's where I really lost it.
I wish Michael had known my husband John before this. I wish they could have geeked out together over their favorite ponies and debated the best episodes. I wish Michael could have felt all this support before January 23rd somehow - and while I'm at it, I wish ALL young fans could have this kind of outpouring of encouragement when times get tough.
We have to start where we are, and with who we know. But let's start, my friends. Let's make every kid in a geeky/fan t-shirt, every child who loves something outside the mainstream, feel like a rock star. Let's encourage the ones we know, and praise the ones we don't. If my Exemplars features have taught me anything, it's that there is strength in numbers, and kids in particular need to know they're not alone. I love the internet for that - so let's keep sharing and cheering them on, one brony or bug-collector or Trekkie or Whovian or future-geologist at a time.
A sampling of Exemplars and inspirations, one and all.
The world's going to be different some day, and it will be better because of kids like these. Because of kids like Michael.
K, that's all I've got. Now, go hug someone you love. And if you'd like to donate to Michael's recovery fund, you can do so at the family's Go Fund Me page here.