Emily Gipson's viral video "Welcome to Lebanon High School" criticizes the school through spoken word, with a specific focus on the widely accepted hostility towards students dealing with depression and other mental health issues.
"Posters say ‘smile’ and ‘be happy,’ but how am I supposed to be happy in a world, no, in a community where creativeness is put down, where the people who make fun of others never get punished because ‘there’s no proof,’ or ‘there’s nothing we can do about it,’ or, my favorite, ‘kids will be kids. Sometimes I wonder just how many kids it takes dying to make a difference," Gipson says in the video.
The video was made partly in response to a 15-year-old classmate's suicide last fall. According to the Tennessean, The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the death to see if bullying played a role.
As laid out in Gipson's poem, the school does not foster an atmosphere of understanding around issues of depression. And suicide is sadly often used as a punchline.
"Pain, isolation, soreness, emptiness, unhappiness. All of these words relate to the same one: Depression. Ill, unwell, weak, virus, these words are all reasons you see a doctor. Sicknesses. Depression is a disgusting disease that haunts your soul," Gipson said in the passionate video.
While her Youtube video quickly made the rounds on the internet, Lebanon High School principal Scott Walters complained the video hurt his feelings, and Gipson was suspended for two days for "trying to incite violence," the Regina-Leader Post reports.
Gipson did not let suspension stand in the way of continuing to speak up against bullying. On January 24, she uploaded her folllow-up video "Have I Made A Difference Yet?" where she continues the conversation about bullying as a national epidemic.
If you or a loved one are dealing with thoughts of suicide, there are always people waiting to help at the National Suicide Prevention Line 1-800-273-8255.