Culture

Christian Parents Blamed for Joshua (Leelah) Alcorn's Suicide

Another tragic death of a teenager has ignited a cultural firestorm. Once again, angry voices drape their political agenda over a coffin. Although this time it’s different. The deceased’s mother is not getting the empathy and support of the mainstream media. 

A confused and depressed 17-year-old young man walked four miles from his home in Ohio to a highway, where he stepped in front of an oncoming tractor-trailer. Joshua Alcorn died at the scene. When he didn’t show up to delete a scheduled post on Tumblr, it surfaced as a public suicide note.

He wrote that his life was not worth living as transgender. He also wrote of his loneliness and his parents’ refusal to get him gender-reassignment surgery. Instead, he lamented, they would only take him to “biased” Christian therapists.

As you might expect, the “proud” and “tolerant” community are rubbing a grieving mother’s face in her dead son’s troubled life. Without a second thought, their bony fingers of blame point to the parents for the child’s suicide and they scream murder. The purveyors of progressive ideology are doing their best to smear the blood of this precious child on the face and hands of his family and their Christian religion.

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If you believe the self-serving hype, the only thing these parents had to do was accept and validate their son as a girl. This would have cured his depression. The promise of surgery would have given meaning to his life. But alas, they just didn’t understand, support or say the right words to make their confused child’s life worth living.

At least that’s the current narrative, and it’s unquestionably echoed by the mainstream.

Very little else is written about the other side of the story: the grieving parents. Joshua Alcorn’s mother wrote on Facebook of her son’s death very simply. In her eyes, her sweet boy went for a walk early one morning and was struck by a truck and went into the waiting arms of Jesus.

Mrs. Alcorn told CNN that the first time she heard the name “Leelah” was in a suicide note. I can only imagine the pain they must feel at the sound and sight of that name plastered on major outlets. At the same time, no one is speaking of the little boy she gave birth to, and lost. Instead, they claim to mourn a depressed girl named Leelah.

Several petitions have flooded Change.org. These petitions to the White House range from crass )asking for signatures to coerce his parents into burying their son under his chosen name of Leelah, and one to see that he is buried in a dress) to the cruel (calling for prosecution of the parents for his “murder”).

A bill named Leelah’s Law, designed  to “protect” transgender children from conversion therapy, is underway. With all the hype over validation, acceptance and rights, there is one point everyone has ignored.

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This teen lacked meaning in his life–well, of course he did. He was just 17 years old. That’s not uncommon.

Under the name of “nostalgiaprincess,” Joshua wrote that he felt numb and was looking for a reason to live. He suffered from depression and was unable to comprehend what his death would mean to his parents, or to anyone else who loved him.

One can only assume the therapist believed his depression was severe enough to warrant the risk of prescription medication. Although Prozac is the oldest drug known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), and it is FDA-approved for pediatric use, it bears a black box warning.

A black box warning is the strongest warning to the public the FDA can give. It’s the last step before pulling it off the shelves due to its dangerous side effects. Suicide is considered a side effect. It’s a risk that is more prevalent in adolescents.

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In 2007, the FDA called for all antidepressant makers to increase their warnings for suicide in youths ages 18-24.  This 17-year-old boy was taking 60 mg of Prozac each morning, with the doses increasing every couple of months. How can anyone rule out the possibility that it was an ongoing battle with depression and confusion of his identity– mental illness, or a side effect of medication that pushed him into oncoming traffic?

You can, if you don’t really want answers. You can, if your main objective is to hoist your agenda into the headlines. You can, but you won’t help other hurting teens like him.

Joshua complained online that his parents wanted him to be a straight, Christian boy. As opposed to what? A depressed, confused child that believes there is nothing in his life worth living for?

In his last words he made a public call to “fix society.” And it’s true, society needs fixing.

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A society that spits in the face of grieving parents is very ill.

The Alcorn family have just had their hearts ripped from their chests. Now, rather than receiving condolences, they are suffering a barrage of venom that makes the Westboro Baptist Church look like a Sunday potluck.

If we are going to fix society, we have to find real answers that make a difference in lives and stop believing the lies. Parental love can be heartbreaking. Lives matter. Biology matters. Hormones impact our feelings. Black box warnings mean what they say.

The real problem was not that he wasn’t accepted by his parents–as the hatemongers say. By all accounts he was loved, and they sought help for him. CNN.com:

“We don’t support that, religiously,” Alcorn’s mother told CNN on Wednesday, her voice breaking. “But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.”

Parenting is hard. It hurts. The hardest part is doing what you believe is right for your child, even if it means that he or she claims to hate you for it. Joshua Alcorn was not the first to be at odds with his parents. Young and confused, he gave up on his life before his parents did.

Sometimes parenting is holding onto your child with everything inside you. It’s screaming “I love you,” only to have your words and deeds fall on a heart not yet mature enough to understand what love truly means.

Love, especially parental love, is not unconditional acceptance of behavior. It is unconditional love and acceptance of a person as a whole–who they are–and who they have the potential to become.

It is holding on so tight that even death can’t pry your fingers off.

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image illustrations via shutterstock / Mr Doomits / Cartoonresource