Trigger warning for bullying and suicide
A young British Columbian woman, Amanda Todd, committed suicide on Wednesday after a long assault by her peers. People call it cyber-bullying but when are we going to get real about this and call it what it really is? Abuse, verbal, mental and emotional, and now we've lost another youth to it. Last year there was a spate of LGBTQI youth suicides thanks to this kind of abuse. We don't tolerate it when it happens between spouses, or adults in the work-place, so why are some people *still* saying "Well kids will be kids" or worse, that she deserved the treatment she recieved? Because it's kids, it's 'just' teenagers. That's bullshit, and thankfully while public opinion is changing and things are swinging around, these kinds of massive societal shifts take time, and it's taking longer than some of our youth have.
If you're someone who's considering suicide, or being bullied or abused by people in your life, there's some things you need to know-
- You're not alone. Almost everyone gets bullied, or has been bullied, at one point or another. I remember getting made fun of in grade school for wearing old, hand-me-down clothes. One winter I had a snowsuit that used to be my mom's from like, the 1970's. It was functional if not fashionable but man it made my life hell. Most people are Other in some way, and most abusers are just putting you down in order to make themselves feel strong and in control.
- There are a LOT of resources out there for you, please reach out and use them. Places like The Trevor Project, Kid's Help Phone, your teachers, counsellor, doctor, siblings, parents, friends and others are ALL just waiting for you to say something. ANYTHING. Friends and family aren't mind readers so you need to take the first step and let them know what's going on. Your friends and family may suspect you're being hurt, but probably don't want to jump to conclusions, or invade your privacy. SPEAK UP.
- You're not weak or stupid for getting help. Reaching out when you need it can be the strongest, bravest act you ever take. When I was suicidal after my son was born it took six weeks for me to say something to my husband and we immediately got me help. Why did it take six weeks? Because I thought I could handle how I felt by myself, and then later when my depression got really bad, I thought that people would think I was a bad parent for how I was thinking and feeling. Turns out saying "I'm not ok" saved my life, and it could save yours too.
- Speak up for yourself, and for others. If you see someone being harassed at school and you feel strong enough to do so, speak up for them. I know this might make you a target too, but a lot of times all there needs to be is one person who says "Hey, knock it off. You're not funny/cool. You're being an ass." to knock the wind out of a bully. If YOU can't say something, please tell your teacher or other school administrators. It's part of their job to look out for students and protect them.
- Often, it gets better. Sometimes it doesn't. There will always be assholes in the world who get their rocks off by demeaning others. Surround yourself with people who love and accept you for who you are, and who are willing to learn and grow with you along life's Path, and I guarantee that it'll make things easier.
My inbox is open to anyone who wants to chat, though I'm no professional counsellor. If you need help right now, please contact the Kid's Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) and talk to someone. Good luck to you, and may Amanda and all the other youths who have taken their own lives rest in peace.