Matt Shankles lost friends and self-esteem and his depression grew when his eighth-grade classmates learned he was gay. They bullied him relentlessly.
He one day locked himself in his bathroom and jammed the door shut with a drawer, intending to end his life with of a box of X-Acto blades.
"I hated myself more than I hate war," said Shankles, 16, now a Linn-Mar High School sophomore. "More than I hate famine, more than I hate hate."
Thankfully, Shankles didn't die that day.
Rather than give in to his suffering, as do too many other bullying victims, he has devoted his high school career to fighting bullying. He has been reaching out and reassuring victims, advocating for anti-bullying legislation in our nation's capitol and telling his painful story in front of the very classmates that still ridicule him.