My 15 year old cousin has lost two friends in the past year to suicide. Earlier this year, a boy in her class shot himself. More recently, a classmate of hers, Amanda Todd, killed herself . Amanda has been on the news for the last week or so. This 15 year old girl took her own life after being depressed and cyber-bullied. So much that could be discussed here, topics that I don’t really have much knowledge or expertise on but something I feel compelled to at least mention it, so I will keep it brief.
Firstly, the tragedy of teen suicide. Suicide is always tragic, but even more so when it’s a child that decides to take their own life, a child who hasn’t realized their potential and loses hope for the future. I remember my 15th year and I remember it being no picnic, going through the typical angsty phases most teenagers go through, but I never felt in any way that life wasn’t worth living, nor did any of my friends, as far as I can tell. I think the world is moving too fast and we have not really thought about the repercussions of such rapid technological advancement. Technology can be a blessing but it can also be a curse. I first used the internet when I was 14 years old, didn’t have regular access to the internet until I was around 18. In that way, I am lucky because I can function pretty well without technology, and I also know where my boundaries lie about how much information to share on the internet. I don’t think teenagers these days have that compass.
Bullying is so wrong. Cyber-bullying means that you can be bullied any time of the day by people from all over the country. In the past, the home was a place you could escape to after school, but no longer. How audacious people become when they are hidden behind a computer screen being egged on by their peers? How disturbing that instead of building each other up, we are tearing each other down. Let’s not forget about the patriarchal elements often involved in cyber-bullying; call a girl a slut for whatever actions she has engaged in, whatever photos she has posted online, possibly to fit in and be popular because of low self-esteem, but completely disregarding the boy who may have done similar things.
My biggest question after the passing of Amanda is what can we do to help depressed and suicidal people, especially teenagers? I know there are signs to look out for, what exactly are they? Our children need help, so much help.
May Amanda Todd rest in peace. Gone too soon.