What if I fail even just one time – on Minecraft, autism, bullying and suicide

I wrote recently, a plea to the Minecraft community from the autism community for help on April 2nd because I had received not one but two messages from children that were ready to take that final action, suicide. They’re both great kids but their lives are plagued by bullies. It affected me, I became emotional and that post was the result.

bullying - suicide

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Monday morning, the start of a brand new week and first thing in the morning, another child was on the server, demolishing his buildings, giving away all his belongings and talking of committing suicide. The difference this time being that he refused to talk to me in private. 3 hours of talking to him and working with him and eventually he was building again and feeling better again… and it was all made public for the whole server to see.

On average, using my best math and recollection, I’ve had a conversation like this with a child at least once a week since I started the server just about 9 months ago. This is the first time that it’s been in front of everyone.

Perhaps it’s because it was public that, for the first time, I started to ask myself, what if I fail? Even just one time… what if I can’t help? Maybe I already have and just never got word about it. But what if I do fail and I do get an email. What then? What will I feel? How will I react? What will I do?

I’ll be honest, a million answers run through my mind and the majority of them are not good. But I feel that I can’t honestly even pretend to know. If 2 great kids coming to me in one week can catch me off guard the way it did, then getting such terrible news could only be worse, right?

The more I think about it though, the more I realize that there’s only two things I know for certain.

1. In 9 months, 3700 people with autism have joined my server. 3700 children that are bullied on every other server they try. There should not be 3700 in total much less that many in 9 months. And my server has only been spread by word of mouth. These numbers should be alarming to you.

2. I am going to fail eventually. Even the best, most well trained professionals can’t save every person that has reached that level of desperation. Me? Well, I’m not trained and I’m certainly not a professional. The law of averages is working against me in this case as the reality of it is, I can only keep doing this for so long before I find myself facing down a parent’s last email to me.

I can’t even begin to tell you how terrifying that is to me.

It’s time to get proactive.

Instead of sitting back and waiting for that to happen I’m going to try my best to motivate enough people into taking action on this.

What I need is to reach as many Minecraft players as I can. Whether you make videos, live stream or just play on servers with others to please speak up on April 2nd, Autism Awareness Day and tell the world that you are taking a stand against bullying.

Then, every day after, when you see someone being treated unfairly, rudely, brutally or in any other manner that resembles a form of bullying, don’t just turn away… please, say something.

Let those bullies know that you are not ok with how they are treating others and that it’s not going to be tolerated any more.

Don’t just do this because it’s the nice thing to do and certainly don’t do it as a favor to me… do it for those children that should never even be thinking these terrible thoughts much less ending their own lives before they ever had a chance to really truly live them.

Bullying doesn’t just target autistics, that’s true, but autistics get it far worse. As we all know, bullies prey on those that are different somehow and being different pretty much defines the autistic experience. This is why this is my focus and this is why I encourage you to speak out collectively on Autism Awareness Day but the truth is that this is for everyone that has ever been bullied everywhere.

By doing this, by speaking up even just one time, you could be saving someone’s life. All they need to know is that someone cares and that there’s more to life than just the bullies.

Please spread the word. Please help.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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9 Responses to What if I fail even just one time – on Minecraft, autism, bullying and suicide

  1. Tim Post March 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    Do you have some sort of informational page where something could point to? It’d be handy for those of us that are able to get links / 200×200 linked gifs out in front of a whole lot of Minecraft fanatics.

    • Stuart Duncan March 25, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

      Hmm.. I’m not sure what I’d put on it as there are no cold hard facts that I could reference, I don’t think. Let me see what I can come up with.

  2. Elizabeth March 25, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    I don’t know if this will help, but I did not set up my son on AutCraft because he was being bullied on other sites, but because I didn’t want to him to be bullied on other sites when he was ready to interact with other players. There is probably a percentage of your players who are there, like my son, as a preventative measure, not as a last resort.

    This should not be seen as lessening the importance of your message, but only as a small comfort to you.

    Have you outreached directly to Mojang, Markus Persson and Jens Bergensten? They could be a powerful allies in spreading this message.

    • ishomg March 31, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

      Our situation is the same as Elizabeth’s. I had read about Autcraft and elected to sign my son up there to avoid him being bullied. I have recently bought myself an account too. I should probably email you for white listing! My son is a little bit in awe of you 😉

  3. lifewithautismandbipolar March 25, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    My kids love Minecraft, but we only play together as a family. That being said, I love what you have created – there are not enough safe places for children who are different. It is sad how hard I have to fight just to create a safe place for my children to go to school. It is nice to know that there are people out there who would take the time to talk my children down if I was not around. If you do create a badge I would love to add it to my site.

  4. Michelle Kosmicki March 25, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I try to spread the word about Autcraft every time I find a “gaming” family. A couple of young men in my son’s social group play Autcraft and they LOVE it (and so do their parents!).

    While I am alarmed that there are so many kids reaching out…I am very glad they have you there Stuart.

    Just wondering if it may help to have a resource center somewhere in the virtual world that players could go to if they need help? Not sure if it would work, but maybe a connection to US and Canadian resources (prevention hotlines?).

  5. Antony March 26, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    There is a you tuber and twitch streamer called Matt Woodsworth (WoodysGamertag) who runs a pretty large mine craft server in the USA. He has an autistic son and it may be worthwhile contacting him and seeing if he can put the word out through his channels.

  6. nikki (@suburp) March 29, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    I am part of those parents who would never even let my child ‘out’ on open servers and agree with Elisabeth, that quite a few of those on your whitelist (we are on it but not very active so far) are aware this can happen and are very glad their kids can be safe on Aircraft.
    I will make a button link on my blog now that I think of it.
    As for spreading a general anti-bullying campaign, I agree with Antony, contacting some if the very successful minecraft youtubers could be an idea as they reach so many.
    But in the end, while more safe servers might be created (and isn’t mc now doing this realms thing?), as a parent, you have to be extra vigilant with ANY internet activity, especially with autistic kids who will, at first, find it easier to connect online..
    This campaign must also reach parents who too easily let their kids out there alone because they either do not have the skills or any interest in online games…

  7. Bethany @ Puzzled No Longer March 29, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    It really isn’t “failing” if you don’t reach someone. We can talk until we’re blue in the face, and we will get nowhere if the person isn’t ready to hear the message. We just need to do the best we can, and you’re certainly doing that.

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