US teen suspended after reciting suicide poem at school

A US teenager's impassioned spoken word poem about her high school's perceived failures in dealing with poor mental health has resulted in her being suspended.

Emily Gipson, a student at Lebanon High School in Tennessee, posted a video of herself reciting the poignant prose on YouTube, where it has garnered more than 700,000 views since being posted last week.

Ms Gipson wrote the poem, entitled 'Welcome to Lebanon High School', in response to the suicide of a classmate.

"Welcome to Lebanon High School, where smiles are fake and suicide prevention is something to laugh at," she filmed herself reciting.

"Welcome to Lebanon High School, where death threats are passed out like candy. Welcome to Lebanon High School, where you're just one of 2000 faces.

"How am I supposed to be happy in a world - no, in a community - where creativity is put down, where the people who make fun of others never get punished because 'there's no proof' or 'there's nothing we can do about it' or, my favourite, 'kids will be kids'?"

While well-received by many for her articulate criticism of the school's administration and students' perceived inadequate attitude to suicide, and her message to treat other people more kindly, Principal Scott Walters was not impressed.

Ms Gipson was suspended for two days following Lebanon High School administration's discovery of the video, explaining to media that she was accused of "trying to incite violence".

The poem gives no indication that she was urging others to be violent.

Mr Walters told The Lebanon Democrat he wasn't able to discuss Ms Gipson's punishment, but that he had taken issue with her use of a classroom without a teacher's permission. Ms Gipson says that isn't true, and that she had permission from two staff members to record the poem.

Mr Walters added that his feelings, and that of other staff members, had been hurt by the video.

Ms Gipson told the Associated Press that regardless of the punishment, she's pleased at the good the video has produced.

"I never knew that it would get this big, and through it getting this big I've learned a lesson: this is not my school, this is everyone's school - this is a national problem," she said.

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