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Why Thousands of People Are Sharing Their Ostomy Bags on Social Media


Being part of a community that understands what you’re going through can be an incredibly powerful shift

It’s in honor of Seven Bridges, a young boy who died by suicide.

“You’re a freak!”

“What’s wrong with you?”“You’re not normal.”

These are all things kids with disabilities might hear at school and on the playground. According to research, children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers.

Like me, Seven Bridges, a 10-year-old boy from Kentucky, was one of the many kids who was treated badly because of his disability. Seven had a chronic bowel condition and a colostomy. He was repeatedly bullied. His mother says he was teased on the bus because of the smell from his bowel condition.

On Jan. 19, Seven died by suicide.

According to what limited research there is on the topic, the suicide rate among people with certain types of disabilities is significantly higher than it is for non-disabled people. Disabled people who die by suicide are more likely to do so because of the social messages we receive from society about having a disability.

There’s also a strong link between being bullied and feeling suicidal as well as other mental health issues.

Shortly after Seven’s death, an Instagram user named Stephanie (who goes by @lapetitechronie) started the hashtag #bagsoutforSeven. Stephanie has Crohn’s disease and a permanent ileostomy, which she shared a picture of on Instagram.

I was a part of the disability community before the hashtag, but the more I’ve learned about disability community, culture, and pride — and witnessed a variety of disabled people from all walks of life share their experiences with joy — the more I’ve been able to see my disabled identity as worthy of celebrating, just like my queer identity.

A hashtag like #bagsoutforSeven has the power to reach other kids like Seven Bridges and show them that they aren’t alone, that their lives are worth living, and that a disability isn’t something to be ashamed of.

In fact, it can be a source of joy, pride, and connection.

 

Posted on: February 21 2019

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