For years I have been saying to my younger nieces and nephew. Don’t put anything on the internet that you would be embarrassed by. Your reputation is important, don’t put yourself in a position to regret your choices. The internet is forever, you can’t take something back once its out there. I have poked and prodded and annoyed them to no end about this matter. It hasn’t done much to stop them.
This past week a young girl from Canada posted a YouTube video about her struggles with cyber bullying, physical assault, suicide attempts, cutting, drugs and alcohol. She died shortly after posting the video. It appears she had committed suicide but it’s being investigated by the police in her community.
Last night I watch the video of this beautiful young girl, who made a dumb choice and that choice led to years of hardship for her. Her family must be heart-broken, and I am not sure the lesson she was trying to teach with her video will be heard correctly.
What I took from this terrible tragedy is this
1) As I have always stated, the internet is forever. You can’t post then delete, there is a record somewhere, someone has seen it, may use it. Protect yourself from the unknown.
2) These “friends” that are on your Facebook page, your Twitter followers, your blog readers, they aren’t real friends, you know only what they choose to tell you on their profile. If you don’t know these people, know where they live, what they look like face to face, you probably shouldn’t share ANY personal information with them EVER.
3) It seems that a large group of kids in this world have no empathy to other people and their plights. The first attempt that this young girl made she drank bleach and when she got home from having her stomach pumped these kids had posted things to her Facebook about her inability to kill herself and wishing her luck on her next attempt. REALLY! What kind of people do that? This story has haunted me since I was told about it, and only strengthened my sympathy for the family after watching her video.
I am even more grateful to be an adult, who can face my demons and bullies face to face. I don’t understand this world that allows these kids to be so angry, hurtful and brutal in a cyber world and look each other in the eye the next day. What does it say about our society that kids can be chased from schools, from social situations, based on past wrongs? We used to live by the golden rule, Do to others as you would have them do to you. Maybe we don’t teach that lesson anymore.
I am deeply disturbed by the loss these children. Amanda Todd’s story is not unique, I wish that it was. Speaking as someone who has suffered with depression and thoughts of suicide I know the extremes it takes to get there.
Parents, protect your children. I don’t mean to coddle them, or make them weak, but know what they are doing when they are on the internet. Know their friends, where they will be, how to get in touch. Set them up to succeed, give them the tools to say no when they need to and yes when it’s right. Don’t be afraid to be tough, to ask the weird questions, to dig deeper. Follow your gut, don’t ignore that knawing feeling when something is wrong. It doesn’t matter if they like you, what matters is that they are safe and secure and whole beings. This is not an indictment against the parents of children who have committed suicide, it’s a suggestion to those who may not be aware of the struggles of their kids.
Children talk to your parents, or your Aunt or Uncle or Grandparents, or your best friend. You aren’t alone, there are people going through what you are going through. And as much as it might scare an adult to hear you say you have thought about killing yourself, the help you will get will outweigh that discomfort. Please for your sake, don’t go quietly into the dark night, rage against the dying of the light.
To all those who’ve taken their lives in despair and sadness, be at peace. My condolences to your families. For those thinking of taking your lives, seek help, you are not alone.