A Minnesota school district enacts a policy designed to stop teachers from discussing or acknowledging homosexuality. Gay students report bullying, but administrators do nothing. The result is a string of suicides that has shaken the community:
Sam’s death lit the fuse of a suicide epidemic that would take the lives of nine local students in under two years, a rate so high that child psychologist Dan Reidenberg, executive director of the Minnesota-based Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, declared the Anoka-Hennepin school district the site of a ‘suicide cluster,’ adding that the crisis might hold an element of contagion; suicidal thoughts had become catchy, like a lethal virus. “Here you had a large number of suicides that are really closely connected, all within one school district, in a small amount of time,” explains Reidenberg. “Kids started to feel that the normal response to stress was to take your life.”
There was another common thread: Four of the nine dead were either gay or perceived as such by other kids, and were reportedly bullied.