What are we to make of a Falcon’s suicide?

April 30, 2013 — by Aria Hooman

Junior Aria Hooman

Despite the loss of a fellow Falcon, Audrie Pott, to suicide last fall, it seems many at this school are confused or misguided in their view of the incident as a whole. 

Editor’s Note: Aria Hooman is a junior. He wrote this piece as a guest columnist for The Falcon.
Despite the loss of a fellow Falcon, Audrie Pott, to suicide last fall, it seems many at this school are confused or misguided in their view of the incident as a whole. While a nation has been looking on, entranced by this absolutely ugly story and its implications for not only the student body at this school but also for young people across the country, many of us have been distracted by inconsistencies with the reporting and the repercussions of the nationwide story on the reputation of our school.
While I do believe it is important to get the facts right, we mustn’t allow ourselves to lose sight of the larger idea. Losing one of our own by her own hand in a community as wealthy and fortunate as Saratoga is utterly disgusting, and it’s our chance to re-evaluate our whole way of life here.
Let me start out by commenting that I do not believe this school is a breeding ground for bullying and sexual assault. In my years here, I have witnessed very little that would indicate a severe lack of respect among the student body. However, the circumstances of this case have forced me, forced us, to look deeper. To cling on to the belief that bullying is insignificant in this community with such unnerving facts facing us would show a degree of naivety unacceptable for us.
Thus, the problem is us: We let Audrie down. Based on reports, she was sexually assaulted, taken advantage of and betrayed by people she considered friends, and those of us with the power to intervene and help chose to stand idly by, bystanders gazing at the burning building collapsing right in front of their eyes without assisting those trapped inside.
I know what you may be thinking. I know you specifically may have had nothing to do with this, no opportunity to help. But that doesn’t free all of us from the blame, because I’m not blaming a specific set of people, I’m blaming a culture. A culture that is characterized by drinking alcohol at unsupervised parties and subjecting one’s body to harmful, disorienting drugs until one loses touch with consciousness, and then is unwilling to take any responsibility for one’s own actions. 
And while not everyone at this school may participate in all of the above actions, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of our culture, our way of thought and of life, on this situation. Regardless of whether or not you drink or do drugs yourself, you are a part of a group of people who believe that any problem can be corrected by chemicals (prescribed or otherwise), that work and fun must be kept separate, that only a few truly live in this life. Look where those ideas have gotten us.
But I’m not writing this to propose that we are so inherently flawed there is no point in trying to change. All I’m saying is that maybe it’s not enough to ask a few people to “do the right thing.” Maybe we all need to do the right thing by reforming our lifestyles and accepting that what we may view as harmless fun and games may lead to unhealthy habits that put us all in danger.
Ultimately, what happened to Audrie is not about just sexual assault or just bullying or even a combination of those factors. Instead, it’s the realization of countless problems with our society acting on one innocent girl simultaneously.
While there’s nothing I can do to change the people who believe sexual assault is a laughing matter, I can say that we failed Audrie when she most needed us. She needed us to know when a party was getting out of hand. She needed us to prevent her from intoxication. She needed us to protect us from the wrath of those who would do her harm. And perhaps most importantly, she needed our support for the aftermath.
It’s sickening to admit that we didn’t provide a single one of those. We could have, should have, but didn’t, which is why each and every one of us needs to take a minute to think about the way we’ve been living. We need to choose to quit doing drugs or drinking, we need to pledge to watch our friend’s backs in fear of losing them, we need to realize that pain is everywhere, and that we need to stop thinking just of ourselves and start paying attention to our surroundings.
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