Suicide sheds light on need for LGBTQ resources for teens

13 Sep

A photo of Ryan Zicha before he committed suicide earlier this year.

Eight months ago Julie Zicha got this text from her 19-year-old son Ryan: “Please forgive me. Remember that it wasn’t your fault. Always remember that I love you and that I’ll always love you. And I’m up at Pebble Creek.” She said there was no mistaking what it meant.

Ryan had been the victim of ceaseless bullying in and out of school–so much so that he married his best friend to be legally emancipated–all because he was gay. Local News 8 ran a great and moving story talking to Julie about her son and the need for resources, such as Gay-Straight Alliance groups, in local high schools.

But the task isn’t so easy. As ISU’s LGBTQ Student Association told us this past summer, there’s an atmosphere of hatred toward gay youths in schools that few can do anything about. The state refuses to include sexual orientation or gender identity into hate crime laws or even school bullying legislation.

Yet people like Ryan suffer every day without anywhere to turn to. But in his mother’s grief, there is still hope. From Local News 8:

Julie holds the book of letters in her lap, reading the notes that tell Ryan what his mom said he never realized. “You were never truly alone,” one letter reads. “I love you always,” reads another. Being able to establish the alliances would help keep some part of her son alive, Julie said.

“He touched so many lives in his short time here and all he ever wanted to do was to be that kind of person to help others through that struggle,” she said.

There is already one student at Century High School who is working to build a Gay Straight Alliance. The Idaho State University LGBT Student Association is looking for student sponsors at the other high schools in the area.

[via Local News 8]


9 Responses to “Suicide sheds light on need for LGBTQ resources for teens”

  1. James Wright 10/05/2011 at 1:39 pm #

    My deepest condolences are extended in this tragic situation. I have it on good authority that Ryan’s life was a difficult one. While it’s challenging to make such an evaluation, even if Ryan had have been straight, odds are he would have still struggled in life. As mentioned in the story he suffered from bipolar disease, in addition to other behavioral and physical issues, which made him quite often combative and troublesome. His mother in her grief is obviously having difficulty being completely honest concerning the circumstances that surrounded his death. Bullying over the years may have contributed to his many issues and character flaws, but it was in the end not the primary motivator in his death. At the time of his suicide Ryan was faced with felony criminal prosecution for impersonating an FBI agent and fraudulently obtaining someone’s personal and social security information. Ryan’s death is terribly unfortunate, but it is not right that the circumstances are being misrepresented no matter how noble the cause. It must be unbearable to carry the guilt and self-incrimination that lingers in the aftermath of a suicide, especially that of a child. It may ease the pain to point that blame elsewhere and to turn suicide into something noble, but to stretch the truth so dramatically is in the long run of no honorable service to anyone.

    The Local News 8 report detailing Ryan’s crimes can be found here. Please take note that the date of his arraignment roughly coincides with the date of his tragic death:

    • Peter D. Miller 12/29/2011 at 1:36 pm #

      Being charged with a crime doesn’t equal being guilty of it. Or have you forgotten that basic tenet of our justice system? The proper terminology for anyone who doesn’t want to be sued for libel is “alleged crimes.”

      Seems like you’re heavily invested in finding a way to blame the victim here. How, exactly, do you have anything like the expertise or specific knowledge in this case to claim to know what the “primary motivator” was? Too bad you don’t grasp the difference between an opinion and a fact.

    • Maren 12/29/2011 at 1:44 pm #

      Mr. Wright,
      You can speak when you know him personally and know the whole situation instead of just what you can dig up online.
      Oh wait, you can’t. Because this wonderful young man has died.
      So please, stop attacking the dead or his family. I don’t know what you were trying to achieve by this, but your attempts have failed.

  2. Julie Zicha 12/29/2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Mr Wright:

    Sad to see that you’ve found another place to regurgitate this sanctimonious diatribe about my son.

    I find your self-righteous, judgmental words about my son and me to be repugnant. I do not know how you could possibly feel as if you are even remotely qualified to know what “the primary motivator in his death” was considering you did not know my son AT ALL. The OBVIOUS truth of the matter is that ONLY Ryan knows what his primary motivating factor was that day and for you to imply that you know his reasons is pure arrogance.

    Prior to his death, there were only a handful of people who knew enough about Ryan’s situation that they could be considered a “good authority” and I highly doubt that you’ve spoken to any of them. In each of your posts you have linked to an online article about his arraignment last January; there was ONE charge brought against him, not several as you’ve implied and last I knew, we still live in a country where someone is presumed innocent until they’ve been proved otherwise.

    Also, I have never misrepresented Ryan’s suicide or any other aspects of his circumstances, nor have I tried to turn suicide into a noble thing. Quite the contrary, I’ve spoken publicly on several occasions now and have spoken out against suicide as being the answer each time. Every effort I have made over the course of the last year here has been a direct result of my hope and desire to prevent further suicides and for the life of me, I cannot fathom why you would seek to sully those efforts. Again, I have to wonder about your own personal agenda.

    And You sir, have no idea what it must be like to survive your child’s suicide unless of course, you’ve had a child who’s committed suicide. For you to presume to know again shows both arrogance and ignorance on your part.

    Finally, you obviously haven’t figured out yet that the person who wrote the story that you have been linking to about the charges against Ryan is the EXACT same reporter who has been kind enough to write the two recent Local News 8 articles about my efforts to prevent LGBTQ suicide. There REALLY is no conspiracy of silence here as you seem to believe; Ms. Borghi was WELL aware of the charges that were brought against Ryan when she did those stories and must have felt them to be inconsequential.

  3. Ashlee L 12/29/2011 at 2:33 pm #

    First of all, I’d like to put some corrections in Mr. Wright’s comment. One) bipolar is not a desease. It is a disorder. If it were a desease, that would mean it runs a chance of being contagious…
    Two) I don’t believe it’s right for you to drag Ryan’s name through dirt. It is entirely rude of you to say such things when posting about this article.
    Three) I’m part of the LGBTQI community and though I didn’t know Ryan very well, I did know how much he was bullied. Your opinion that you stated, and yes it was only an opinion, was not based off of any type of psychological evidence – meaning until you are a psychiatrist and did evaluate Ryan and his behaviors, you are not one to speak about what “probably would have been.”

    Second, I don’t believe that it is your job to show people what a terrible person you think he is. That is not your god given right, as much as you may think it is. As many of my friends have said multiple times due to people who say rude things like you just did – respect the dead. I will stand by that phrase until the day that I, myself, die.

  4. testing2 12/29/2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Thank you for giving this perspective; I couldn’t agreed more. Before I do say more, I do have to praise Julie Zicha for her efforts; what she is doing in the name of her late son is going to help change the world and make SE Idaho a better place. I do, however, have an issue with how Ryan is made out to look like a martyr. I only met Ryan about six months before his death and had little interaction with him. But I can tell you that the interaction I did have included spontaneous communications from him in which, in the name of his supposed office with the FBI, my life was threatened and some extremely cruel things were directed my way. I, of course, ignored them. But one can imagine what kind of impression that would leave with me of this individual. I grew up in SE Idaho and have always, even in high school, been openly gay. I was the victim of some bullying, but it was little compared to the number of people who really didn’t care. I value life and I feel that there is not single life that ever would be valueless enough to be taken away, and Ryan is certainly no exception to that. I wish he could have realized that trials don’t last forever as I have through some horrible things I’ve been through. But with that being said, I can’t help but wonder if a lot of his tribulations weren’t brought on by himself. If he treated others the way he treated me, then I’d be willing to bet that he did bring a lot more of this on himself then anyone will admit. His death is indeed a tragedy, but we still need to be realistic and realize that by no means is he a martyr.

  5. Peter D. Miller 12/29/2011 at 5:20 pm #

    So apparently no one is allowed to disagree with “James Wright”?

    • thebannockalternative 01/02/2012 at 10:13 am #

      Sorry about that, guys. We were gone for the last couple of weeks and only just noticed all the comments you made. Our system just requires approval of everybody’s first comment here, we’re not censoring anybody.

  6. JyneeB 01/02/2012 at 5:46 pm #

    When someone dies, no matter what the circumstances, continuing to say mean things about them is just another disgusting bullying tactic. Those of you leaving the nasty comments are just trolls who have nothing better to do. Guess what? Everyone makes mistakes and does things they are not proud of. Those of you making the nasty comments are no exception. To try and drag a young mans name through the mud after he died no matter how it happened is just unconscionable. His family has suffered a terrible loss and they are trying to bring some light and sanity to this tragedy. Leave it all to rest!!

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