A B.C. RCMP officer who was bullied to the point of feeling suicidal as a child has turned those experiences into a realistic and popular presentation to high school students across the country.
Const. Tad Milmine, 38, has spoken in front of more than 15,000 students since he started his anti-bullying talk in October 2012. Milmine is an unusual spokesperson in many ways: the openly gay Mountie started the presentation on his own time and expense, wanting only to help teens with the feelings he remembers so vividly.
"I let them know I've been there. I know what it's like to be down, to be bullied, to feel alone suicidal, to not have friends, to not have a role model, to not have someone to talk to, to have a crappy home life," Milmine told The Huffington Post B.C. in an interview.
He also encourages students to email him directly: "If they just want to share their story, I'll listen without judgement."
Milmine had been a Mountie for two years when he read about Jamie Hubley, an Ottawa teen who killed himself after relentless bullying.
"I recognized that I didn't want to be a person reading headlines anymore and hoping the world would become a better place. I wanted to do something about it," Milmine explained.
He went on to create Bullying Ends Here which he brought to schools in Surrey, B.C. Teachers spread the word and soon he was in high demand. The RCMP recognized the positive potential and arranged for Milmine to be paid to visit schools in Canada and the U.S. full-time. The arrangement will be re-evaluated at the end of the school year.
"I'm peeling back the layers. They're not seeing a gay man, a police officer. They're seeing a human being," he says. "I'm creating a bond, not just throwing information at them and hoping they get it."
Milmine was also featured in a YouTube video highlighting gay and lesbian RCMP officers in B.C.'s Lower Mainland last year. The "It Gets Better" video earned widespread praise for dispelling some of the stereotypes about the RCMP.
"I think the only reason that not more members aren't out doesn't have to do with the force, but has to do with society," says Milmine.
Since Milmine started reaching out to youth, he's received 4,000 emails; four of them credit him with saving their lives, he says.
Some high school students have started a Twitter campaign with the hashtag, #tadmilmineonellen, to get the Mountie on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.