The Way We Treat Those Around Us: Bullying and Suicide
The Internet has been ablaze with a range of reactions – shock, disgust, fear, anger, indifference, and grievance – to the heartbreaking suicide of 15 year old Amanda Todd.
Amanda developed anxiety, depression and panic disorder resulting from a long chain of painful events. Years ago, Amanda and her friends often enjoyed meeting new people and “friends” on their webcams. Constantly flattered by an older man, she was eventually manipulated into showing herself topless. Years later, this man un-expectedly reentered her life and took advantage of what Amanda had done, blackmailing her with a photo if she wouldn’t give him more of a “show”. When she refused, he released the photo to her entire community – school, town, family, and relatives.
Moving from school to school in an effort to shake the bullying and severe judgment, she was continually harassed, teased, threatened and made a target for ridicule. Eventually, she was confronted by a large group and beaten up. Shaken, she was later found laying in a ditch wishing for death. Upon being brought home, she drank bleach but was unsuccessful in her attempt to disconnect from the life she wished to escape. The world’s response devastated her. People wrote that they wished she would read their comments and try again, asked if she’d washed the mud out of her hair, suggested she try different bleach – ultimately that she deserved to die and that those people would continue wishing death or emotional pain upon her.
In her video, linked above, Amanda writes, “Nothing stops. I have nobody. I need someone.” Everyone faces a struggle at some point in their life, a struggle that defines their current person and a struggle that calls for a strong support system to make things more bearable. Various accounts quote Amanda’s parents saying that she did have a strong support system at her newest school. Regardless of the friends she did have, bullies from her past – and bullies across the Internet - continued to define how she felt about herself.
Regardless of our walk in life, age, background, current location, friends, gender or countless other possible traits, we are going to make decisions we will regret. Do people deserve to be publicly judged, verbally and/or physically? Is conveying anger and disgust worth the end result and is the end result really what the bully wanted? What is gained from continually pushing someone with malicious judgments?
Photo: Tanisha Pina
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