I spent a while trying to figure out how to write this entry. There’s a fine line between having an opinion and being an idiot, or seeming arrogant. I didn’t want to cross that line, and I hope that I have not done so – especially due to the sensitive nature of this topic.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Amanda Todd, I’m going to fill you in. Amanda Todd, a seemingly average fifteen year old girl, logged into a chatroom with her friends a few years ago, to meet new people. These strangers complimented he, then asked her to flash. She did. About a year later, she was messaged by somebody telling her that if she didn’t give him a ‘private show’, he would send a photo he had taken (presumably a screen-shot) of her breasts to all of her family and friends. She did not give him the show.
One day during Christmas break, police knocked on her door at 4am. The stranger had sent the photo of her breasts out to everybody. She got depressed, and her anxiety increased a huge amount. She lost all of her friends, and moved to a different school for a new beginning. Soon after, the stranger tracked her down again, and once more sent out the photo to her new friends. As a result, she got into drugs and alcohol, and began to self harm. She became so depressed and anxious that she couldn’t leave the house, and moved once again. Things seemed to be getting better – until she began to talk to an old male friend who lead her on and said he liked her, even though he had a girlfriend. He invited her over, she went, and they hooked up. She later received a text saying ‘leave your school now’. She ignored it, but she was surrounded by people and two girls (one of which was the girlfriend of the boy she had hooked up with) came up to her, telling her nobody likes her, and went on to beat her. Escaping, she ran to a ditch where her father later found her. When she got home, she drank bleach in the hopes of killing herself, but survived when rushed to hospital and receiving a stomach pump. Returning home from hospital, she logged into facebook to discover posts telling her to drink bleach again, saying that nobody likes her, and telling her to die.
Five days ago, on October 10th 2012, Amanda Todd killed herself because of bullies.
Her story has spread around the internet like wildfire. There have been trending topics on twitter, pages created on facebook, posts on tumblr, and countless news websites all talking about this teenage girl committing suicide due to bullies. I’m not going to sit here and type about how bullying needs to stop, but not do anything about it. That’s not going to achieve anything.
Instead – and this is where the risky opinion comes in – I’m going to suggest that maybe these news articles and facebook pages are aimed at the wrong thing. There’s a facebook page called R.I.P Amanda Todd. It has 786,000 likes and is full of people saying how beautiful she was. I appreciate that it’s good to remember and respect somebody who has died, but maybe people should have said this to her whilst she was still alive. Maybe people should have been nice to her, and this wouldn’t have happened. Shoulda woulda coulda’s won’t change a thing, but I’m getting to my point; instead of posting messages and tweets about this one girl, I’m suggesting that they’re for everybody who has ever done the same. Two kids at my school – a boy in the year above me and a girl who was in my geography class – committed suicide during my time there. Nobody saw it coming, and I don’t see facebook pages with near 800k likes for them. In fact, teenagers commit suicide from bullying every day, but their stories don’t make it into the news.
Maybe these facebook pages and trending topics would be better aimed as a mark of respect for everybody who has died this way. Nobody is more important that anybody else in life, and they should not be in death. Don’t let the story of one temporarily raise awareness of how serious bullying can be, but let the story of thousands be a constant reminder that things need to change.
I can’t imagine what this girl’s family is going through right now, and my thoughts are with them. But my thoughts are with every family who has lost someone in this way. With every mother who doesn’t realise she’s just kissed her daughter goodnight for the last time, and with every father who will go to work tomorrow and return home without a son.
Shortly before her death, Amanda uploaded a YouTube video talking about her experiences. If you want her first hand account, then click here. I’m going to warn you from the start, it’s not an easy watch.
As I previously stated, I’m not going to sit here and type our a paragraph about how bullying needs to be stopped, but do nothing else about it. Realistically, that isn’t going to do a single damn thing. Instead, I hope that just one of you will go and talk to that guy who is sitting alone at lunch, or smile at that girl in the corridor who never seems to be smiling herself. It just might save a life. Unless people pro-actively go out of their way to help people and make them feel better, nothing will change. So next time you think about calling someone a slut, loser, bitch, gay, asshole, jerk, or anything else… don’t.
Because it might be the last thing they hear.