Amanda Michelle Todd- Teenage Suicide

12 10 2012

A beautiful young girl took her life in Vancouver yesterday. She was the victim of bullying at school, in her neigbourhood, via text and on the internet. She cried out for help and tried to make people around her aware of the damage they were doing to her and to others whose self worth is crucified by people around them by posting a video on You Tube. I became aware of the video when I was checking my Facebook page and saw several people posting R.I.P. messages as their status. I googled Amanda Michelle Todd and came across her You Tube Video. I pressed play and at the end of the 3 minutes and 37 seconds I found myself crying. Crying, because this young beautiful girl, could have easily been any of the young teens in my neigbourhood. This very well could have been one of my very own children’s friends or a neigbour and she did not have to die.

This tragedy starts when a teen boy asks Amanda to flash her breasts to him and she did. This young man took a picture and then told her that if she did not put on a show for him that he would send the picture to everyone and when she denied his request he sent it out and it went viral in a very short period of time. This was the start of incessant bullying and physical attacks on Amanda. It damaged her self worth to where she was cutting herself, drank bleach in an attempted suicide before she was successful in taking her life last night. I hope that this young man realizes that his actions started the events that eventually caused Amanda to feel that she had no option than to take her own life.

We have to be pro active with our children. We tend to react after someone attempts or commits suicide and do not spend time discussing the repercussions of bullying before someone takes their life. I hear all the time about girls in my neigbourhood giving in to requests from boys for sexual favours. As adults we all know that these girls are simply looking for attention and just want to be popular amongst the boys. We have to teach our boys to have respect for girls and teach our girls that they do not ever have to do any sexual favours for boys in order to be liked.

As parents we need to help make our kids into leaders who will stop incidents from happening. I can all but guarantee you that if the most popular boys in school took a strong stand against bullying and told his friends that requesting sexual favours was not cool that the number of boys requesting sexual favours to try to fit in with the popular crowd would diminish. The same would happen if the popular girls in school would stand up and tell the girls with less self esteem that they do not have to perform sexual acts in order to be popular. If they do they will be popular but not the way they had intended.

The second most common cause of death in teens 12-18 after motor vehicle accidents is suicide. In a recent study done of teens that had taken their own life they found that over half of the teens had school challenges and/or were victims of bullying. We cannot leave it up to the schools with anti bullying programs like The Rock Solid Program that Victoria Schools benefit from to educate our children. Programs like Rock Solid should only have to reinforce what we already teach our kids in our own homes.

Amanda’s tragedy reminds me of a very powerful book called” 13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher. It is a story of a young girl who commits suicide and leaves audio tapes with instructions for the tapes to go from student to student like a chain letter. The tapes explain the 13 reasons why she took her own life and are directed at each of the people that contributed to her taking her life. I highly recommend it for teenagers and parents.

I also strongly recommend that every parent watch the Amanda Michelle Todd You Tube Video with their children and have a very open discussion about why this beautiful young soul felt that her only option in life was to take her own life. We can make a difference and help to prevent suicide if we educate our children.

For more information on teen suicide prevention please visit the sites below.

http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/suicide_prevention/index.htm

http://www.youthsuicide.ca/