Alaska Congressman Makes ‘Hurtful’ Remarks In Wake Of Teen’s Suicide, Says Gay Marriage Is ‘Bullshazzle’

YoungAlaska's lone congressman Don Young, the House of Representatives' longest serving Republican member, made comments recently at a Wasilla, Alaska high school that have been labeled 'hurtful' by the school's principal Amy Spargo. Alaska Dispatch News reports that many present at the assembly where Young spoke to students found Young's comments on suicide and gay marriage to be both offensive and disrespectful.

Young was asked by teacher Carl Swick about Alaska's high rates of suicide and domestic violence and what particularly he is doing to curb these trends. Young began talking about the role of alcohol and depression in these instances and then, according to witnesses, commented that suicide shows a lack of support from friends and family:

"When I heard 'a lack of support from family' and I heard 'a lack of support from friends,' I felt the oxygen go out of the room, but I gasped as well," Spargo said. "It just isn't true in these situations. It's just such a hurtful thing to say." 

Both Spargo and Swick say a friend of the victim, moved by emotion, shouted at Young, “He had friends. He had support.”

“The kid said, ‘It’s depression — you know, a mental illness,' ” Spargo recalled. As she remembers, Young replied, “ ‘Well, what, do you just go to the doctor and get diagnosed with suicide?’ ”

At some point during the exchange, several school staffers say, the congressman also used either the words "—hole” or “smartass.” 

Young’s office issued a statement about his conduct Tuesday evening in response to a request from Alaska Dispatch News. 

“Congressman Young was very serious and forthright when discussing the issue of suicide, in part because of the high number of tragedies that affect Alaskan youth. He discussed what he believes are leading causes of youth suicide in our state and shared some suggestions for helping family members and friends who are dealing with suicidal thoughts,” spokesman Matt Shuckerow wrote in an email. “In no way did Congressman Young mean to upset anyone with his well-intentioned message. In light of the tragic events affecting the Wasilla High School community, he should have taken a much more sensitive approach.”

Later in the assembly, student Zachary Grier asked Young about his position on same-sex marriage:

“I asked why is it so bad in your eyes?” Grier said.

As Spargo described it, Young answered, “You can’t have marriage with two men. What do you get with two bulls?”

Witnesses say Young then said something about a lot of "bullshazzle" or some word resembling the more familiar obscenity.

“At that point I was heading for the microphone," the principal said. "It was time to be done.” The hour was up, she said, and the tone of the discussion was getting argumentative.

Afterwards, Young spoke with Spargo on his way out and, according to Spargo, said of the student who spoke up about their friend who had recently comitted suicide, "That boy needs to learn some respect."


  1. Gordon says

    HE needs to learn respect for others and not be so puffed up with his station in life. He is there to SERVE his constituents, not be served BY them. Shame on him for his mindset.

  2. B says

    Agreed with Steve. How the hell could anyone think it would be a good idea to bring in an elected official with absolutely no mental health qualifications or certifications to discuss adolescent suicide?!? Then again, it is Wasilla. The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre must have had prior engagements.

  3. ToThePoint says

    He IS what is going wrong with society today. No respect given to anyone unless they are straight, white (I am white), christian and male. He hates gays and depressed people. Further he thinks marriage is purely about sex and procreation. Well, then he must push for legislation to force all married couples to f*ck and make babies. If they do not, whether by choice or not (due to a medical condition, perhaps), their marriage is dissolved. I HATE this M*TH*RF*CK*R and EVERYONE like his arrogant, pompous *ss!

  4. Jack M says

    A supremely ignorant man. What’s even sadder is that he’s all Alaska’s got. He’s probably good friends with the Palins. Fortunately, the principal and most of the students could clearly see the kind of man he is.

  5. DannyEastVillage says

    Like that other aged-out fool Ronnie Reagan, this piece of shazzle has to have his handlers cover for him when he opens his mouth and garbage comes out.

    In the 80s, those covering for Reagan had to say over and over again, “what the president *meant* to say was…” blah blah blah..

  6. pete n sfo says

    I absolutely LOVE that kids are willing to speak truth to power.

    The teachers were likely wishing they could heckle him, but the kids did it.

    Good on ya!

  7. Bernie says

    it appears Mr. Young needs a lot of education on depression, suicide, marriage equality and common sense….I don’t think he realizes the possible impact on the teens he was addressing…..his ignorance and insensitivity could have a very negative impact on some of those young people struggling with depression, suicide, sexual identity issues….but, alas, this doesn’t really matter to this Republican

  8. gregorybrown says

    Alaska is a beautiful and terrifying place. Many of its longtime residents are delightfully independent if highly opinionated people. The influence of the military and the influx of ultra-conservative and reactionary people in the late Sixties North Slope/Pipeline rush introduced a new, reactionary element into what was a healthily libertarian environment. Don Young and Sarah “the Quitter” Palin are the spawn of that change.

  9. Mike says

    Am certain that sounded better in the original German. Whatever. That “lone congressman” should be hung in effigy. Only in his case you do not have to bother with the effigy.

  10. Raven says

    The man has been a disgrace to his office for decades. I remember seeing him when I was in AK in high school, and even back then he was spouting off ignorance & hate.

  11. bructer says

    Maybe the congressman should show some respect since he works for that student who asked the question. That is the problem with our gov’t they think we work for them when in reality it is supposed to be the other way around. When are the people going to take back the gov’t from the elitist gov’t we now have and getting worse everyday. That’s when they imbeciles will stop the lies and bull. I say TERM LIMITS let take the profit out of being a gov’t employee.

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